What happened to my simple, quiet college town?
That is the question I asked my friends last weekend as thousands of Cal Poly alumni, parents and potential students descended upon San Luis Obispo for Open House.
Being from out of state, I never got the chance to experience the madness of Open House, and after seeing it first-hand, I’m kind of glad I didn’t. The weekend is a showcase of all things Cal Poly and if you have a club you are already interested in, it’s a perfect time to go talk to the members.
However, the plethora of booths means the lower part of campus turns into a zoo and that is simply not my cup of tea. This time around, the chaos was unavoidable. Stuck on campus with little hope of leaving, I watched the invasion of what I consider my home by strangers.
In my view, a college campus is unique because of its youthfulness. At what other time in your life are you so consistently surrounded by people your own age? Only seeing the occasional set of parents walking around campus reminds me that, yes, there are people in this world who do not think Tosh.0 is hilarious.
Yet, that changed Saturday as I set out for my daily run and started out on my normally peaceful jaunt through the horse unit and back toward the agricultural areas (I think I’ve become immune to the smell).
Usually seeing more than a couple people was out of the ordinary, but this time I found myself ducking and dodging through throngs of people braving the heat and heading to the tractor pull.
On that note, what is the appeal of the tractor pull? To be fair, I have not seen this spectacle, though the various descriptions of the event combined with the deafening noise heard from my Cerro Vista apartment does not create something I’d pony up eight bucks for.
Thanks, but no thanks, I’ll save that cash for a tri-tip sandwich from Firestone Grill, which will not poison my lungs for the day.
Narrowly avoiding running over multiple grandmothers sporting Cal Poly 1950 alumni pins, I returned to my apartment, cleaned up and made a quick trip to the booths of chaos. After spending about 20 minutes at two separate club booths, where not one person came up and talked to us, I started to wonder if all the visitors simply looked at each group and moved on.
But then I saw the reason for our demise: food. Lines stretched through the streets for something as simple as a free snow cone (to be fair, it was blistering out). Everything from tri-tip to Cal Poly-made milkshakes brought throngs of prospective students to the agricultural booths.
Note to prospective students: enjoy the good food on campus while it lasts, I hope you did not decide to come to San Luis Obispo thinking the “aggies” cooked up stellar food on a daily basis for Campus Dining.
Having had enough of the Open House mania, I walked back to my dorm, closed the blinds and huddled under my covers in an attempt to get away from it all.
Mercifully the sun dawned on Sunday and the flood of people finally began to trickle out of the Cal Poly campus. Do not get me wrong, it’s important for students to see their future campus before they make a decision, but I believe Open House does not accurately represent what going to college here is like.
I would have advised students who came to “Polywood” to stick around until Monday, then take a tour and get an accurate pulse of what campus looks like when it is not overrun with middle-aged parents and overzealous alumni.
I admit, I’m too harsh on Open House. I should love that people who have not gone to school here in decades still keep a dear place in their heart for Cal Poly, but that is hard to see through the spectacle.
I’m sure I’ll come around in about 30 years when I take my kids back to a place that has already gifted me with so many memories — but I’ll end this column before I tear up.