Prospective students, hello and welcome to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. My name is Dustin and I will be your tour guide on our little walk through campus today.
Keep in mind that we have to make this tour quick, so I’m going to skip all of those boring things like classrooms and labs. You know what goes on in those places, and because this is Cal Poly, you already know that they are all high-quality bastions of learning by doing.
Instead, today we are going to focus on some of the most commonly used areas of campus. That way, when you decide to become a part of our big happy family you will know where to go for food, books, bowling . you know, the essentials.
Cal Poly is the second largest land-holding university in the United States (9,678 acres total, 1,321 of which make up the main campus) and somehow every inch of it is uphill, in all directions. It’s really one of the great mysteries of the natural world and as a result, all Cal Poly students have hyper-developed calves and glutes, so if anybody has trouble keeping up as we are walking, please let me know.
If there are no questions, let’s go ahead and start the tour!
Stop 1: Grand Avenue
What better place to start our tour than the main entrance to campus? As we head up this street, there are a few things I would like to point out.
If you look to your right you will see some of our on-campus housing. There are 13 residence halls on campus, providing a total of 2,783 living spaces. Also, construction is currently underway on the new Poly Canyon Village housing units that will make room for 2,700 more students.
In an effort to promote good study habits, Cal Poly students living on campus have the option to live in dorms segregated by major. Mixed-major housing is also available for those who desire a more socially eclectic dorm experience.
All dorms have high-speed Internet access, cable, digital phone service and all the comforts of home packed into one “efficient” space.
As we continue up Grand Avenue, you will see some of our parking facilities on the left. As of fall 2007, Cal Poly had roughly 22,648 students, faculty and staff members and a whopping 6,700 parking spaces. If you take a moment to do the math, you will find that there are not enough parking spaces for everybody on campus.
If you are planning to live off-campus, I would suggest investing in a bicycle. San Luis Obispo isn’t a huge town and just about everywhere is accessible by bicycle. Students who ride bikes to campus often manage to make it to class quicker and with less hassle than those of us who commute.
If physical activity isn’t your thing, you can always ride the bus for free with your Cal Poly student ID.
Stop 2: The Performing Arts Center
Just past the parking structure, we find the PAC. It is the Central Coast’s premiere live entertainment venue and it seems like there is always something great going on just beyond its doors.
The facility includes a concert hall with 1,282 seats, the pavilion, which serves as a multi-purpose venue, and a 170-seat recital hall.
If you’re a fan of live entertainment whether it be drama, musicals, ballet, symphony, opera, stand-up comedy, children’s theater or anything else for that matter, you should be able to find something amazing at the PAC during any season. Plus, students get special discounts, so there are no excuses for being uncultured.
Stop 3: The University Union
The UU is the heart of campus. If you need something, there’s a good chance you can find it here.
The first thing you will notice is El Corral Bookstore. With a few exceptions, this is where you will purchase all of those expensive textbooks that you might open once or twice throughout the quarter. Also, feel free to peruse the fine collections of Cal Poly shot glasses, T-shirts and bumper stickers. Hey, if you are lucky enough to be accepted to this university, why not show it off by buying a pair of skintight sweatpants with “Cal Poly” name emblazoned on the butt?
Above the bookstore, we find the 940-seat Chumash Auditorium, which hosts various events, lectures and conferences throughout the year. Just last year I had the chance to see adult film star Ron Jeremy debate anti-pornography pastor Craig Gross over the impact of pornography in our society, all thanks to Chumash Auditorium.
Also housed in the UU is Mustang Lanes, the only bowling alley in San Luis Obispo; Poly Escapes, providing rentals of outdoor gear for weekend adventures; the Craft Center, where you can take classes in surfboard shaping and photography, among others; a coffee shop (currently Julian’s but it will switch to Starbucks soon); and a whole plethora of interesting offices, student resource centers, computer terminals, chairs . and oh yeah, a giant TV that always seems to play bad daytime talk shows.
Stop 4: The Avenue
I know this is what you’ve all been waiting for: food! That is what The Avenue is all about.
The place is a lot like a food court. OK, it is a food court . but it’s pretty good as far as food courts go. The salad bar is usually a good bet and the only Chick-fil-A in the area is located here, so fill up on waffle fries and chicken sandwiches while you have the chance.
The Avenue accepts Plu$ Dollars (part of on-campus meal plans), cash, Campus Express Cards and credit and debit cards.
Stop 5: Mott Gym and the Recreation Center
If you would please direct your attention across the street, you will notice our Recreation Center, and directly to the left, Mott Gym – home of Mustangs basketball and volleyball.
If you can’t make it through your day without hitting the gym, the Rec Center is definitely something you should be aware of.
The facility houses a weight and exercise room, a pool, several sports complex fields, beach volleyball courts and also serves as a venue for concerts and other events. The weight and exercise room tends to fill up during certain times of the day, but once you get a feeling for what those times are each quarter, it’s not too tough to plan around them.
Due to a campuswide vote held last quarter, the Rec Center will undergo an expansion in the near future that will double its amount of usable space. The weight and exercise room will actually triple in size, hopefully alleviating some of the crowding during those high-traffic periods.
Also planned for the expansion: air conditioning in high-use areas, artificial turf on the sports fields, new basketball courts and a multi-activity facility for concerts and other events. The center will remain open during construction.
Stop 6: The Robert E. Kennedy Library
I suppose our tour does need something educational, so let’s head across campus and check out the library.
As you can see, this place is huge: 203,605 square feet to be exact. According to the Cal Poly Factbook (because there is no way I knew this), the library holdings consist of “2,576,300 items, including 634,400 books and other printed works, 99,700 bound periodicals, 417,700 government documents, 31,500 maps, 48,300 audiovisual items, 1,339,400 microforms, 5,400 online databases and other resources.”
I’m not sure what all of that means, but it sounds impressive.
The library is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. with shorter hours Friday through Sunday. There is a study room near the entrance that stays open 24 hours a day during the regular quarter. So if you really need to get away from obnoxious roommates, you can always hide there.
Also located in the library is Pony Prints. If you need to print out that last-minute research paper, copy packets for a group presentation, bind reports or print out an oversized color portrait of your buddy passed out on your couch after last weekend’s costume party, these guys can take care of you. All for a nominal fee, of course.
Stop 7: Campus Market
Since we’re on this side of campus, let’s stop in the market for a minute.
If the UU didn’t have what you were looking for, Campus Market is your next best bet. They carry the essentials for survival, as well as the non-essentials like pizza and those organic snack foods that we college students love so dearly.
Stop 8: The University Police Department
In case of emergency it’s always good to know where the campus police station is. Located just around the corner from Campus Market, hopefully you won’t have much need to visit this building.
I’ve been there once, but it was only to pay off a stack of parking tickets. Don’t be like me – buy a parking permit at the beginning of the school year and maybe you won’t have to come over here at all.
Stop 9: Building 47
For the last stop on our tour, I’ve chosen the infamous Faculty Offices North building.
When you inevitably have to visit a professor during office hours, chances are you will have to brave the catacombs that make up this ridiculous structure.
Nicknamed “The Maze,” building 47 is a complex puzzle of hallways, hidden rooms and disappearing staircases. It’s as if the Winchester Mystery House and an M.C. Escher print had a demon love child.
It’s definitely an interesting and aesthetically pleasing building, but just be aware that once you go in, you may not be able to find your way out. When scheduling an appointment with a professor, allow yourself a few extra minutes to brave the labyrinth and fight the Minotaur that guards the halls.
So that concludes our extremely abridged tour of campus, and now that we are done, I would suggest that you take our school’s motto, “learn by doing,” to heart and explore on your own. Maybe check out some of those classrooms and research facilities we skipped.
Our campus also contains a radio station, TV studio, printing press, meat-processing facilities, a plastics processing lab, equestrian stables, a brand new football stadium, an art gallery, baseball fields, irrigation practice fields and so much more. See what you can find. I know I’m always amazed to find something new when I wander around campus between classes, and now’s your chance.
Dustin Stone is a journalism senior and a reporter for the Mustang Daily.