The total number of applications submitted to Cal Poly reached an all-time high in Fall 2012. There were 45,796 transfer and first-time freshman applications, which was an increase of 10.9 percent from the previous year, according to the Cal Poly Fall 2012 Fact Book.
With the number of enrolled freshmen reaching an all-time high of 4,316 and the number of new transfer students reaching 808 in Fall 2011, University Housing needed to accommodate the largest incoming class of students in Cal Poly’s history.
Associate Director of Housing Carole Schaffer said 210 rooms in the Sierra Madre and Yosemite communities were converted into triple occupancy rooms in Fall 2011. The total number of triple rooms in the red brick dorms outnumbers the amount of double rooms.
“In the red bricks, we currently have 368 triple rooms and 262 double rooms,” Schaffer said.
First Year Housing Assignment Coordinator Tracy Kashima said 50 percent of Cal Poly’s freshman housing is now triple rooms spread through all the residence halls. However, there is no current plan to increase the amount of triples as the number of students continues to grow each year.
Schaffer said a housing market study was completed in the fall and the results supporting additional housing were promising. On-campus housing, including Poly Canyon Village and the Cerro Vista apartments, are at high capacity and there were 940 more underclassmen than the campus could hold in 2011.
“University Housing is always committed to provide on-campus housing for as many students as possible,” Schaffer said.
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong is one of the proponents for additional housing. However, increasing the diversity of admitted students is an equally high priority for Armstrong currently.
In the past year, Armstrong has hired two new people into admissions to pull in diversity as well as an executive director of diversity and inclusivity. The position is supported by the Student Success Fee that was implemented in January.
According to the Cal Poly Fall 2012 Fact Book, 61.8 percent of undergraduates are white. Although there has been a gradual decrease since Fall 2008 when more than 65.2 percent of undergraduate students were white, it is clear that diversity is an issue at Cal Poly.
“Cal Poly was more diverse in the 1960s than it is now,” coordinator of multicultural programs and services Erin Echols said. “A lot of this had to do with the implementation of Proposition 209.”
In 1996, Prop 209 amended the state constitution to prohibit state government institutions from considering race, sex or ethnicity specifically in the area of public education. It was implemented in hopes of increasing diversity, however, diversity at Cal Poly decreased.
“We see diversity in the applications we receive, but we do not in the acceptances,” Echols said. “This is because Cal Poly has a reputation for being white and has historically been one of the least diverse universities.”
Echols said non-white prospective students experience culture shock when they come to visit the campus for events such as Open House. More than 70 percent of the faculty and staff are white and more than 60 percent of the students are white.
“Even white people from places like the Bay Area and Los Angeles feel a culture shock when they come here because of how white it is,” Echols said.
Cal Poly continues to implement studies to figure out what is going wrong with diversity on campus. The MultiCultural Center is also dedicated to providing cultural programs to address the needs of potential incoming students.
Cal Poly hosted PolyCultural Weekend on April 5 to 7 for admitted students to experience what it would be like if they were to attend. Twenty-three cultural clubs were represented and it was a chance for the prospective students to learn about the organizations available to them.
In the past, 80 percent of students who attended the weekend accepted Cal Poly afterwards, according to Echols.