Cal Poly took the latest step to deciding on the possibility of semester conversion this past week by launching a survey to gauge the campus’ attitude about semesters and quarters.
The Semester Review Task Force has discussed the survey, which includes nine questions, since its inception in early October. A committee within the task force designed the survey, psychology chair and committee member Gary Laver said.
In an email sent to students, faculty, staff and others with a link to the survey, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong wrote that he wants to hear from constituents about the possibility of converting to semesters. Though Armstrong made clear his personal opinion — that he believes semesters are right for Cal Poly — he said he is open to the idea of staying on the quarter calendar.
“The purpose of our Cal Poly Semester Task Force is to explore what is best for Cal Poly,” Armstrong wrote in the email. “I am more than prepared to set aside my personal belief that a semester system is better for student success in the face of a strong case (for student success) for remaining on quarters.”
The task force, which Armstrong established early fall quarter to examine the possibility of switching from quarters to semesters, is charged with predicting the impact semesters would have at Cal Poly. Its 14 goals, however, do not specifically task the group with compiling opinions on the possibility of conversion. But Laver said the results of the survey will be useful to provide information to the president when he makes a decision.
“I see the task force role right now as collecting … opinions from the campus,” he said.
Representing a group that some predict will strongly oppose a semester conversion is architecture junior Leticia de Brito, who created a “Keep Cal Poly on the Quarter System” Facebook event page this past Thursday. The page has since gained more than 600 online supporters, many of whom are students.
De Brito, who describes herself as a “reluctant leader” of the fight against semesters, said she created the page because she feels like students do not have enough information to make an educated decision about semesters at Cal Poly. Since creating the page, she has done her own research and formed an even stronger opinion about conversion.
“The more I learn about the issue, the more I affirm my belief that quarters are better, and I don’t know why we’re looking at the changes,” de Brito said.
After reviewing records of Semester Review Task Force meetings and talking to people who are familiar with the task force’s mission, de Brito said she feels the group is not being impartial in its process and is leaning toward endorsing a semester conversion.
Task force members, however, have repeatedly denied the idea that the group has a pro-semester bias. Laver said Tuesday that members of the task force are putting aside their personal opinions and approaching the possibility of conversion with an open mind.
“It’s the job of the task force members to be open,” Laver said. “We have our own opinions, but we have to stay unbiased and open. It’d be great if everyone would do that, but if they vote with their gut, if they don’t vote with their gut, that’s up to them.”