The Cal Poly Strategic Plan is now in its draft stages, open to engagement and discussion by faculty, students and others associated with Cal Poly. Part of the plan requires all underclassmen to live in on-campus housing by 2023. The Administration believes this will increase student success, based on data that shows graduation and student retention rates are improved when students live on campus their first two years.
“Regarding the university’s Strategic Plan, I think it’s really important that students go read it and provide their input and their feedback,” Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey said. “Cal Poly is a strong campus because so many of our students get involved in major processes like this.”
However, not all students are willing to give up the freedom to choose where they live for the sake of academic success.
“When things are required and mandatory, they suddenly seem like less of a good idea,” aerospace engineering junior Riley Ormiston said.
Though Ormiston said that living on campus may make it easier for students to be motivated to go to class, he also said living off campus provides the allure of “the more fun, the more college thing to do, and if you’re not getting off-campus living in an apartment then you’re seen as missing out.”
“It’s always a balance when we work with students — it’s about what they want versus what we know that they need,” Humphrey said. “We make something mandatory because the data is so strong and compelling that it feels professionally and ethically irresponsible for us not to.”
The Strategic Plan also intends to ease the transition to the new required housing policy by creating changes to campus life and infrastructure that will create a campus environment students want to be a part of and can be successful in.
“We are trying to shift the conditions on campus so that students want to be here,” Humphrey said. “There’s a lot of facility development, upgrading of food and activities and life on campus so that students say, ‘yeah I want to be here.’”
Theatre freshman Jacob Keswick said he has freshman friends who are already making plans to live off campus for next year.
“Some sophomores will be ready to live off campus. Give them the option to decide,” Keswick said.
While some students are concerned with the social aspect of being required to live on campus, others are considering the financial impact.
Political science freshman Noah Aragon is one of those students. Aragon is considering living in Poly Canyon Village next year, unless he is able to find a more affordable place off campus.
Other students are weighing the pros and cons of this proposal for future students, based on their own experiences.
Political science junior McKinley Bruckner said his first year living in Trinity Hall was characterized by harassment and alienation by his peers.
“As a very extroverted queer person, I immediately felt alienated within my gender-segregated living space,” Bruckner said.
When Bruckner was able to live off-campus his second year, it was both safer and more affordable.
Bruckner also said Cal Poly’s plan to require on-campus housing and increase fees is in opposition with its goal to diversify the student body because marginalized populations often have lower incomes and face entry barriers when trying to access higher education.
“I hope to educate as many students as possible this quarter about the impacts of this plan and how I along with many others plan to stop it or make it better, Bruckner said.
Both Bruckner and Humphrey emphasize the goal of creating and receiving student feedback on the Strategic Plan.
Feedback can be give here. Feedback will be incorporated into the plan before its implementation begins in 2017.