Living in a study lounge wasn’t quite what communication studies sophomore Ben King pictured before he came to Cal Poly this past year.
King said he was initially confused by his unusual housing situation, but he made the best of it, along with his three other roommates.
The need for overflow housing in past years — in 2011 there were 940 more underclassmen than the 6,902 on-campus beds — has moved Cal Poly to consider the construction of additional on-campus housing. Focus groups will meet this week to discuss how large the demand for new housing is and what type would be most beneficial.
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong is one of the proponents of such additions. Armstrong has hinted at his desire for additional housing during welcome addresses at the beginning of fall quarter in both 2011 and 2012. In the 2011 speech, he said Cal Poly needs enough housing for all freshmen and sophomores as a bare minimum.
Armstrong reiterated that stance at the welcome address this past month.
“We have been aggressively exploring ways to provide more housing, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we will be able to do that soon,” he said at the address.
Director of Residential Life Carole Schaffer said the plans for new housing are just in the beginning stages. University Housing is working with a consulting firm to complete a student housing demand analysis, Schaffer said.
Six focus groups, consisting of two groups of freshmen, two of sophomores, one of upper division students and one of resident and community advisers, will meet this week to discuss their preferences for additional housing on campus.
“We’ve learned from our past projects that it’s really important and we really value student input in helping inform us,” Schaffer said. “We’re trying to get a cross section of student input.”
Both Schaffer and Armstrong mentioned students tend to do better academically when they live on campus.
Cal Poly spokesperson Chip Visci said although they currently have no idea where the funding might come from or where the site of the housing might be, Armstrong is determined to see the new housing built.
“President Armstrong wants to go beyond all first and second years living on campus,” Visci said. “And make it possible for someone who wanted to live on campus all four years to do so.”
His determination could help eliminate overcrowding. In 2011, 4,316 freshmen came to Cal Poly, almost 800 more than the previous year. Seventy-six students were placed in first floor study lounges that were converted into dorm rooms. That number dwindled as the school year progressed and students were able to move into vacated rooms.
Approximately 3,700 freshmen are enrolled at Cal Poly this year according to Brent Goodman, director of the Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis. But if there is to be room for all underclassmen, the need for more space remains.
King, who lived in a converted study lounge with three others this past year, said he was unsure of what it would mean to live in the overflow room when he got his housing assignment.
“I knew they were going to have triples,” he said. “I was expecting that, but I was in no way prepared for the whole overflow housing thing.”
King said the situation was tolerable because he knew there were other freshmen in the same boat.
“It was kind of nice because I had three roommates (in overflow) and we were all in the same situation,” he said. “Halfway through the year I got moved into a triple. I felt like I got one less roommate, but half the space.”
King lives in Poly Canyon Village (PCV) this year, where he said he especially appreciates having a room to himself. PCV was completed in 2009 and added 2,670 beds to campus. At the time, it was the largest on-campus housing complex constructed all at once by a university in the U.S. It was built to take pressure off the existing on-campus housing as well as the city of San Luis Obispo.
But as King said, it isn’t enough.
“If they’re going to keep having these large classes of freshmen, they’re going to have to expand their housing situation,” he said.