Four students showed up to Wednesday’s general forum for semester review, along with several faculty and staff members.
The forum, hosted by Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong, was held with the purpose of opening up questions about the Semester Review Task Force to the public. A total of 14 people made up the audience.
The forum began with a question about what the next steps will be, considering the impact of the report released by the task force in December.
“We do have a process, and we’re not finished,” Armstrong said. “I have not had a substantive discussion with Chancellor Tim White yet — he is on the ground and he is running hard.”
Armstrong confirmed that although he has not yet spoken with White on the matter, he is scheduling a meeting to do so in February.
“He’s done a lot of research on the CSU, but I want him to know, ‘Here’s Cal Poly, here’s who we are,’” Armstrong said.
Armstrong addressed the fact that he fully expects the upcoming Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Student Advisory Vote to show that the student body endorses quarters rather than semesters.
“I think the students will be for quarters,” Armstrong said. “That’s an important bit of information. I tend to look at things from a holistic perspective and I think part of that is looking at the context.”
Armstrong also said, however, that the student advisory vote is just that — advisory, but not the final word on the issue.
“It’s very clearly an advisory vote and it’s advisory to me,” Armstrong said. “And then it will be an advisory to the chancellor, and then really the chancellor and the Board of Trustees are really the final say.”
Also discussed were questions of budget in regards to the potential semester conversion. When asked where the money to make the change would come from, Armstrong confirmed that some of it would come from the state but that Cal Poly would also have to support itself.
“In the future, if we were to convert there would be central support, but I think it’s pretty obvious with the amount we’re talking about that a lot of the pressure would fall on us,” Armstrong said.
This discussion led into one regarding the other California State University schools that are planning on switching from quarters to semesters. Armstrong said the other CSU presidents have been informed of the task force’s report.
“The whole point is that there’s six universities out of 23 that have not converted to semesters,” Amstrong said.
With that, the conversation returned to simply the issue of whether switching to semesters is a good idea in the first place.
“If we look at the students who struggle on the quarter system, there may be some benefits,” Semester Review Task Force chair Rachel Fernflores said.
Civil engineering freshman Troy Kawahara said he attended the general forum to keep updated on any news regarding the potential switch to semesters.
“I’ve been to multiple of the semester meetings, so I figured I should follow up ad see if there’s any new dialogue,” Kawahara said. “I favor staying on quarters. I think it provides something unique to the university. There are a lot of arguments to be said both ways, and I think it’s a good discussion to have.”
This was the final open forum Armstrong plans to hold before submitting his recommendations on the issue to White at the end of winter quarter.
“When appropriate, I’ll be very transparent about what I say to the chancellor,” Armstrong said.