Kait Freeberg

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The largest freshman class to date — totaling 4,800 —  was welcomed to the Cal Poly community for the 2013-2014 school year. Although the numbers are not final, this is an increase of 1,100 freshmen from last year, said James Maraviglia, the associate vice provost for marketing and enrollment development.

This increase impacted the Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo communities.

“Every time I have been to Starbucks, Subway or Tacos To-Go there has been a line,” history senior Megan Manning said.

Students can see evidence of the increase in longer lines, but other community challenges aren’t as obvious.

Even with more freshmen, on-campus living needs have to be met. June Serjeant, the associate director of University Housing, said they were able to accommodate all incoming freshmen.

However, this affected transfer and returning students’ housing options. Serjeant said transfer and returning students who had already paid and applied to live on campus were turned away at the beginning of May.

“Housing Management worked out different plans to provide additional housing spaces for the freshmen,” Serjeant said. “These plans included adding additional triple rooms to the North Mountain residence halls, converting some of the Cerro Vista’s four-person apartments into six-person “suite-style” rooms and using the Gypsum building in the Poly Canyon Village (PCV) complex for freshman housing. Poly Canyon’s ‘design capacity’ is 2,660 students. This fall, 2,744 students live in PCV, with 472 of them in Gypsum — which is all freshmen.”

For returning Cal Poly students, seeing an entire PCV building house only freshmen was a shock.

“I think it’s silly that Cal Poly has to put the freshmen in there,” business administration senior Caitlin Martin said. “If they don’t have room for them in the freshman dorms, then they shouldn’t be admitted. It’s just adding to the impacting problem we already have.”

University Housing doesn’t have plans to accommodate more freshmen next year, but they do plan on keeping the current room conversions, Serjeant said.

There is only talk about building a new University Housing residence.

“As far as I know, there is preliminary discussion for a potential housing complex to be built on the current Grand Avenue parking lot site,” Serjeant said.

On-campus housing was not the only entity affected by the increase in the new class. Off-campus entities, such as California-West, Inc. — a real estate management company — saw a difference in numbers as well.

There is normally a fluctuation in the number of applicants that California-West, Inc. sees. From 2008 to 2010, the numbers were low, but they are picking up.

“We saw approximately a 15 percent increase in rental applications this past season, from April through August,” California-West, Inc. President Derek Banducci said.

Lease renewals with the company and their residents were consistent in past years, but something changed this year.

“Many property owners did increase rents compared with the previous year,” Banducci said. “Typical increases were around 5 to 8 percent.”

The Cal Poly Recreation Center noticed changes as well. Greg Avakian, assistant director of Associated Students, Inc. recreational sports, said its busiest hours still remain at noon, and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. However, he said there has been a noteworthy increase in the number of people using the gym between 9:30 and 11:00 a.m.

To adjust to this increase, more staff members were added to the membership and front desk areas.

“We did process 3,960 new hand key registrations in the month of September,” Avakian said.

During Week of Welcome, the Recreation Center was open until 1 a.m. to accommodate potential needs, Avakian said.

The Recreation Center’s busiest day in the first week of Fall Quarter was Tuesday, Sept. 24, with the entry number reaching 6,591 people, Avakian said.

Robert E. Kennedy Library also saw increases in student visitors. In the first two weeks of school, students entered the library more than 70,000 times, which is an increase from last year by 7,000, university librarian Anna Gold said.

Over the summer, more furniture was ordered to provide more seating for the third floor to accommodate the change, Gold said. The library also ordered more mobile whiteboards to provide collaboration areas for students.

“One of our challenges this summer was to create new space on the third floor of the library for an expanded home for the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology, which is currently based on the second floor in the library,” she said. “We moved over 200,000 books to achieve this goal, and we’re very pleased that we still gained seats for students in the process.”

Students can also expect to see more computers and seats in the 216B computer lab in November, Gold said.

The freshmen increase in the student body was not just by chance. There was a plan.

“Overall funding for Cal Poly, combined with increased graduation rates, provided more opportunities for new student growth,” Maraviglia said.

Maraviglia also said that the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Engineering will see the most growth.

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  1. Accepting more freshman is not something that is magically scalable. It’s a moral hazard for the university since everything is so segmented (housing, dining, classes, etc) that it places the burden on each of those segments rather than wholly on administration itself. “Woe is us, we can’t seem to satisfy the demand of all these new students! The increase in students was planned, but gee, I guess our resources were not.” Just like what Caitlin Martin was saying.
    Thank god I’m getting out soon, won’t have to deal with even more impacted classes. Priorities only do so much in registration.

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