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After taking a series of steps to increase Cal Poly’s presence in out-of-classroom student life, administrators insist their presence has been overblown and is for the students’ own good.

Benjy Egel
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After taking a series of steps to increase Cal Poly’s presence in out-of-classroom student life, administrators insist their presence has been overblown and is for the students’ own good.

The administration isn’t making more moves in student life than before, Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey said. But greek life party restrictions and talks of mandatory on-campus living for freshmen and sophomores have garnered attention across campus and even at a national level.

“I don’t think that Cal Poly is showing a trend of getting more involved in student life, I just think that the actions are a bit more visible and high profile,” Humphrey wrote in an email to Mustang News. “If you call our interest in student success a greater involvement in student life, then I think that is a good thing.”

Statistics from other universities show students who live on campus perform better academically than those who live off campus, administrators have said. Humphrey said he and Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong agree bringing all freshmen and sophomores to campus would enhance their performance in school.

Most students Mustang News spoke to did not approve of mandatory on-campus living for freshmen and sophomores, with concerns ranging from the impairment of individual freedom to not fully developing life skills.

Mathematics sophomore Pascal Purro was not excited about the prospect of spending his first two years on campus.

“I personally enjoyed my first year here, but I did not — at all — want to live on campus for a second year,” he said. “I think it should be up to the students to decide, and to make it mandatory would probably be a turn-off for a lot of students.”

In addition to the talks of required on-campus housing, students and the university have disagreed on how strictly the university should manage off-campus parties. Greek life was recently released from a month-long social probation by reaching a party registration compromise with the school.

But Cal Poly’s social climate isn’t crazy enough to require serious party restrictions, Purro said.

“What we’ve had, except for a few speed bumps, has been working,” he said. “Students like it, and obviously the school doesn’t, but I think that we’re sitting pretty right now.”

While some have called the fraternities’ new party rules overbearing, the school collaborated with elected student leaders to reach the compromise. Cal Poly wants to make sure people are partying safely, not get rid of partying entirely, Humphrey said.

“Every university has a segment of its students that like to throw parties and have a good time,” he said. “That’s part of the college experience.”

The party scene is so closely connected with the college experience that Associated Students Inc. (ASI) President Jason Colombini said one ASI Board of Directors member told him she didn’t consider going to schools without vibrant greek life. He compared it to Cal Poly Athletics, which attracts otherwise intelligent students interested in playing for or rooting on Division I sports teams.

“College is all about balance,” Colombini said. “If you want a balance between having really qualified, academic people who are also socially able to interact with others, you’re going to look for that.”

If Cal Poly infringes too heavily on the party culture surrounding California Avenue and Hathway Street, academically qualified students looking for a social school could go elsewhere. The administration knows partying is part of the some students’ ideal college experience, Humphrey said.

Strict prohibition is less effective than having students learn from educational programs like Aware Awake Alive, Colombini added. Many college students want to party, and university rules are only a hurdle, not a roadblock.

“The students who are interested (in partying) are going to do it regardless of how many restrictions you put on it,” Colombini said. “If you’re going to do it, fine. But know the signs of alcohol poisoning. Be aware. Know your surroundings. Be smart about it.”

Not all moves to restrict partying have come from within Cal Poly. The City of San Luis Obispo implemented double fines for drinking-related offenses during Week of Welcome.

Ending the annual Cesar Chavez Day party at Shell Beach took a combined effort from Cal Poly and the Pismo Beach Police Department.

After 2012’s party left trash strewn across the beach and cost the city $8,000, Colombini used his status as Interfraternity Council president to organize a next-day cleanup crew in 2013.

The crew ended up having little work to do, since the Cal Poly Academic Senate voted to move the class schedule so spring break would end on April 2, increasing the probability students would be out of town for Cesar Chavez Day. Students who came back to celebrate early found police all over the beach, ready to cite partygoers for having open containers of alcohol or underage drinking.

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