Wednesday’s student advisory vote was expected to show that Cal Poly students favor quarters over semesters, and it did exactly that, with the vast majority choosing quarters.
Those in favor of staying on the quarter system took the overwhelming majority, with 89.8 percent of the vote, while semesters received only 8.7 percent and 1.5 percent were undecided. These results were the culmination of 43 percent of students voting, amounting to 8,077 votes.
Semester Review Task Force Chair Rachel Fernflores said this was expected based on the sentiment she and the rest of the task force had seen throughout their research process.
“They were just what I expected,” Fernflores said. “I was thinking like 85 and 90 percent in supporting quarters.”
The landslide victory of quarters was not lost on the administration and student government. Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong confirmed his belief that the students would vote for quarters a week prior to the vote itself. Armstrong said the results add to the information he will consider when bringing the issue to California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy White.
“Through the surveys, forums and votes, everyone who has wanted to be heard has had an opportunity to be heard,” Armstrong wrote in an email.
The next step is to go to the Cal Poly Academic Senate, Armstrong wrote. The Academic Senate is expected to vote on its potential endorsement of the Semester Review Task Force’s report at its next meeting Tuesday. Fernflores said it seems likely the senate will support the task force report.
“Based on how the discussions have gone so far in the senate, it seems pretty favorable to endorsing the recommendation,” Fernflores said.
Though Armstrong’s next step is at the Academic Senate’s Tuesday meeting, Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Katie Morrow said ASI’s next step is to draft a resolution based on the vote results, which will be looked at as part of the ultimate decision.
“It’s just drafting a resolution showing the results of the vote,” Morrow said. “I think they’re also going to provide some rationale in there based on the comments.”
The drafted resolution will be voted on at the next ASI Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday. If it is endorsed — and Morrow said that seems likely — it will be passed along to Armstrong for consideration in his final decision.
Once Armstrong feels he has enough data regarding the benefits and disadvantages of switching to semesters — including the ASI resolution and the Semester Review Task Force report — he will speak with the CSU about the issue.
“This week, I am expecting to have my first substantive conversation with Chancellor White about this issue,” Armstrong wrote. “It’s important to remember, as I’ve noted before, that the final decision rests with the CSU.”
Both Armstrong and Morrow said the student advisory vote showed the student body’s strong investment in the issue. Morrow said though the ultimate goal was 100 percent participation, she was pleased with the number of students who took the initiative to vote.
“Considering national averages of voting, and campus averages, and CSU averages, that was really high,” Morrow said. “Students on campus have been very active and very thoughtful in this whole process and I think the entire student body has set itself up very well as respectable stakeholders.”
ASI had previously not planned on administering a student advisory vote on the issue of semester conversion. Morrow said this snap decision allowed them only a month to put together a campaign for the vote.
“It was difficult because we only voted to have the vote last month so we weren’t able to attribute many resources toward (the campaign) until we were certain that there would be a vote,” Morrow said.
Morrow said part of the ASI resolution will provide some explanation as to why the vote was so lopsided, mainly taken from comments written in the provided section.
“I read everything that a student put in a comment box,” Morrow said. “We’ll definitely take that feedback into account.”
Armstrong echoed the positive sentiment about the turnout for this vote.
“The turnout and results showed how deeply students care about this issue,” Armstrong wrote. “The turnout was strong and the sentiment clear. We’re now nearing the end of a process exploring this issue, and it has been a good process.”
Morrow chalked up the participation rate to Cal Poly students caring about the quality of their education.
“Cal Poly students have so much pride in our education, in how hard we work, and I think it really goes back to that pride,” Morrow said. “I think that’s a good thing that we take pride in what we do.”