Ian Billings/Mustang News

Liana Riley

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Liana Riley is a political science sophomore and Mustang News columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.

Hearing the urban legends of the days without the beauty of Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics (Building 180) or the extravagance of the Recreation Center prompted me to investigate the differences between the current Cal Poly culture and the contrasting culture four years ago.

I decided to check in with a few graduating seniors who could share the disparities in their experiences and discuss how they feel the culture here has changed since their days as freshmen.

Primarily, I wanted to compare attitudes toward campus culture in terms of nightlife, recreation, school, clubs and activities.

When people think of our culture on campus, an immediate connection is made to the “Cal Party” label our student population often emulates. Regardless of whether or not you partake in this niche on campus, it is a blatant aspect of our culture.

The past few years, however, have beckoned an evolution in the way we experience this.

Electrical engineering senior Kevin Peters classified the party scene as diminishing at best.

“I feel like the party culture in some of the previously well-known party apartment complexes like Mustang Village and Cedar Creek (The Jungle) has really disappeared,” he said.

These apartment complexes are home to large volumes of students who, in past years, welcomed mayhem and chaos into their homes with few reservations.

Today, it’s a different story.

With heightened security measures courtesy of the complex property managers, it’s almost impossible to expect a gathering greater than 15 people to go unnoticed.

Business administration senior Megan Minahan analyzed the differences in one of the most popular Saturday night destinations, Hathway Avenue. “I feel as if Hathway Street (sic) is pretty quiet most weekends and San Luis Obispo in general has definitely gotten a lot quieter.”

She admits to a decrease in the appeal of these outings.

“I tend to not go out as much and find myself downtown,” she said.

This phenomenon has plunged San Luis Obispo into a rather lethargic period, with few solutions to the crackdown on our beloved party scene. One such way to fill the void was the development of a more music-centric San Luis Obispo, one that thrives off of live music and spontaneous shows.

These serve as a replacement to students’ thirst for a weekend thrill, albeit a different kind than a packed apartment full of strangers, which used to be the Friday night norm.

Business administration senior Parker Glenn has noticed this transition and notes there is developing interest in these performances.

“Since coming to Cal Poly, student interest in live music has increased,” he said. “Attendance at house shows in San Luis Obispo were often met by the same dedicated crowd, and I believe that crowd has evolved to include more students now than it did previously.”

Another shift that has occurred in the past few years is an increased enthusiasm for a more collective identity on campus.

Economics senior Daniel Estes has seen a shift in campus climate and attitudes toward social issues.

“There has definitely been an increase in activism on campus over the past few years,” he said. “Events like ‘Take Back the Night’ have become more popular, and sexual assault advocacy is more widespread.”

It is important to look at where we have been, but also to ask where we are going.

Perhaps we are progressing on multiple levels, creating a more diverse culture than the typical university has to offer. Our values, beliefs and interests are imperative here and have become expansive in measure through some necessary transitions.

Looking to the future, I am curious whether Cal Poly will see an exponential growth in activism. Will we pursue innovative ways of having a good time on Saturday night? Is there an opportunity for more diverse perspectives to be heard on campus?

We’ll just have to chat again in four years, Mustangs.

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