1. Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU)When you come to Cal Poly, the first thing you’ll notice is that the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU), is the heart of campus. The UU is home to the Multicultural Center, the Pride Center, the Associated Students Inc., office, Safer, the Craft Center, Starbucks, Mustang Lanes, Yogurt Creations and plenty of awesome study spaces. Upstairs, you can find couches, comfortable chairs and tables to study alone or with friends, as well as quieter rooms off of the main areas. The different offices in the UU provide several resources for various student concerns and experiences. The Craft Center downstairs offers both quarter passes and classes to help you unwind and learn some new skills. Since the UU is also adjacent to the University Store and five different campus dining options, it is a prime location for food and day to day needs.
2. Rec Center (the Rec)
The sparkling new Recreation Center, located just below the UU was completed in 2012, and is the largest collegiate athletic center west of the Mississippi, according to assistant director of energy, utilities and sustainability, Dennis Elliot. Since membership is included in Cal Poly students’ tuition, taking advantage of the over 20,000 square feet of machines, track, courts, pools and studios should be a part of every student’s first year. In addition to all of the basic gym facilities, the recreation center also features multiple pools, and different classes such as Krav Maga, Zumba, and yoga. For an extra cost, students can even register for a personal trainer, or receive their scuba certification.
3. Robert E. Kennedy Library
Cal Poly’s library has been located in the huge, gray concrete Robert E. Kennedy Library since 1980, and is the place on campus where the most students can be found studying at any given time. Inside the library, multimedia labs, computers, couches, tables and even fishbowl rooms, fill the space. The fishbowls serve as a collaborative space where groups of students write on clear whiteboard walls as they study. Julian’s Cafe is also located on the second floor of the library to satisfy your snacking and coffee needs. In addition, the library has multiple library research assistant technicians (LibRATs) to help you search the library’s thousands of books and databases to find exactly what you need for your classes.
4. Health Center
Cal Poly’s Health Center is one of the best resources included in every student’s tuition. With dozens of nurse practitioners and doctors on staff, as well as a lab, pharmacy, x-ray machine and counseling center, this building is equipped with almost everything you need to get through what the life throws at you. In case of infections, allergies, broken bones, vaccinations and more, students can book an appointment online through their portal to meet with a professional. “The Health Center is a place that freshmen should definitely know about,” history sophomore Hannah Palma said. “They should know that it’s usually really crowded, but they shouldn’t be afraid to visit if they aren’t feeling well. I say this from personal experience, when I held off on going for weeks.”
The Health Center also houses the Counseling Center, another great and free resource for all students. The Counseling Center has classes and group and individual therapy to help students work through the struggles that they bring with them or encounter during college. To set up an appointment, call the number found in your health portal.
5. Poly Canyon Village
Poly Canyon Village (PCV) is the newest housing on campus. It’s where you can find a post office, healthy food options and groceries. This year, PCV will house both continuing students and freshman in its eight buildings, so even more students will be making the trek across campus and up to PCV. While it’s farther from the classrooms, the distance is worth it. PCV serves some of the best food on campus, including Einstein Bros. Bagels, Jamba Juice, and Tacos To-Go. Village Market is also located here, and sells groceries and household items for both cash and Plus Dollars, similar to Campus Market. However, the two often have different produce and perishables at any given time, so be sure to check out both before you head off campus to shop.
6. Alex G. Spanos Stadium
Spanos Stadium is the largest stadium on campus, and the center for many Mustang sporting events. Football games and band performances happen here, as do the soccer games, including the rivalry-intensive men’s soccer game between Cal Poly and University of California- Santa Barbara (UCSB). These sporting events serve as an opportunity to socialize and show university spirit by supporting the Mustangs playing on the field and in the band. *Pro tip: purchase your tickets ahead of time for the UCSB game because popular events sell out fast.
7. Mustang Success Center
The Mustang Success Center is an incredible resource for incoming freshman and transfer students. As its name suggests, its sole purpose is to ensure that you are as successful as possible during your academic career. Staff provide academic advising, great resources for making the most of of your college experience and refer you to the people on campus who further assist you. If you’re ever struggling with any part of time as a student at Cal Poly, the Mustang Success Center is the place to go if you aren’t sure what to do next. You can drop in Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. , or Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
8. Dexter Lawn
Located near the west end of the main campus, Dexter Lawn is a hub for various events on campus. Subway,Tacos To-Go Express and the two food trucks: Curbside Grill and Central Coasters are right nearby, making this a popular spot eat, study, play Frisbee or just hang out. Dexter is the location of lots of different campus events, such as study abroad fairs and club fairs. With large trees for shade, Dexter is a great place to take a quick nap, catch up with friends or grab a bite to eat.
9. Performing Arts Center (the PAC)
The urban building you see driving into campus from Grand Avenue is the Performing Arts Center (PAC), which is a the center for entertainment and events for both Cal Poly and the San Luis Obispo community. The PAC is comprised of four main venues, including Sidney Harman Hall, where travelling shows often perform. In January, the national tour of “Rent” came to Sidney Harman Hall, which was an incredible opportunity for both students and SLO residents. The Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre, located on the UU side of the PAC, also hosts many other events, including Cal Poly’s own Theatre and Dance Department performances, and even some of the larger lecture classes. For ticketed events, students often receive a discount, and for larger performances, the theatre sometimes offers rush pricing, where students receive cheaper tickets the day before or of a popular performance. Aside from all this, the PAC is also a very identifiable Cal Poly structure. It’s a landmark that students use to meet up or give directions. It’s important to know so that freshmen can make their way around campus,” child development junior Michaela Mellor said.
10. Bus stops: PAC and Library
Many students come to Cal Poly with no car of their own, but thankfully, SLO has a trustworthy public transportation system. By taking the buses, students can get from campus to downtown, grocery stores and many of the neighborhoods around SLO. With your PolyCard, you have unlimited fares on any of the buses or shuttles within the SLO Transit system. And, by downloading the SLO Transit app, it’s fairly easy to get around town with some practice. There are two different bus stops on campus, making it convenient to hop on and off. There’s one by the library (on the side by Campus Market) and another outside the PAC. “The bus system is important because cars aren’t always accessible for everyone to have, especially freshman, and buses allow students to explore off campus,” art junior Emily Musgrove. “Getting off campus is refreshing, and gives opportunities for freshmen to join the SLO community.”
If you’ve never used public transportation before, make sure you know basic bus etiquette: enter from the front of the bus and exit from the middle, stand up at a stop when you see the bus approaching so the driver knows you need to be picked up, and understand which side of the street has the stop going the direction you need to go. Happy travels!