Presidents Address Recurring Student Issues

By Matthew Trotter

Nearly 400 students came to the quad for Pizza with the
Presidents, Cal Poly’s quarterly question-and-answer session, on
April 5 during University hour.

In addition to University President Michael Ortiz and ASI
President Arno Keshishian, a slew of top administrators were also
present to field questions.

The last edition of the event featured several heated statements
from students, but Keshishian did not anticipate the same
atmosphere this time.

“I feel that this will be a very pleasant Pizza with the
Presidents,” said Keshishian.

Ortiz made light of winter quarter’s event before taking
students’ questions.

“We were going to change the name of this event to ‘Grilled
Presidents with Pizza,'” he said.

Keshishian took time before the questions to note how students’
concerns from the last event had been addressed. He pointed out
more recycling bins, especially in the quad, and mentioned the
positive steps made in the CFA negotiations.

One student gave Ortiz an impromptu warm-up question, asking the
president what he does in his free time. Ortiz responded by saying
he likes to read about cars so much he is a self-described “car
freak.”

After a lighthearted start, students began to ask more difficult
questions.

Nancy Hanson, a graduate student in biological studies, wanted
to know the fate of 300,000 library books in storage. She said she
had already found several books in recycling containers and took
them to charities to send overseas.

“People in less developed countries are desperate for books,”
said Hanson.

Library Dean Harold Schleifer said discarding books is not a
plan. The books will be in storage until September or October. Once
the library project is completed, the books will be put back on the
shelves.

Hanson just does not want to see the books destroyed.

“There’s no reason for a perfectly good book to be ground up for
paper,” she said.

Several questions were within the realm of Public Safety. Police
Chief Michael Guerin spoke several times throughout the hour.

A female student was concerned about her safety on campus after
dark, saying it is very dark in parking lots and the escort service
takes too long to come. Guerin explained community service officers
drive the escort vehicles because police must be available to
respond to emergencies at all times. He said additional officers
would be made available for escorts if possible.

Andrea Farris, a Village resident, complained that the shuttle
does not come there until 45 minutes after the driver’s break is
over. Guerin told all students to contact him if they notice
persistent problems because a paid contractor runs the shuttles.
Any inefficiencies cost the department money.

He added that officers have been working undercover and timing
the buses.

Pedestrian safety was a major concern. One student asked if
there were any plans for a pedestrian bridge across Red Gum
Lane.

Ortiz said there are no immediate plans but the condition of
certain campus roads is a priority. Michael Sylvester of Facilities
Planning and Management said there are flashing lights at the
crossing at Red Gum Lane and Kellogg Drive and similar safety
projects are being planned.

“As the campus continues to expand beyond its original
boundaries, we need a plan to move pedestrians across Temple
[Avenue],” said Freer.

The only question asked about the parking structure was why it
had not been opened. Ortiz explained final touches and inspections
still had to be performed.

“One thing we won’t do is take ownership of the building until
it is safe,” said Freer.

Rocio Navarro, a sixth-year sociology, and gender, ethnic and
multicultural studies student, presented several concerns about
student fees, class availability and administrative salaries.

She also told other students about rallies and teach-ins being
planned on campus.

“Rallying on campus isn’t where you need to be rallying,” said
Ortiz. “That’s in Sacramento.”

Navarro was not satisfied with Ortiz’s answer.

“He needs to understand his responsibility to help students,”
she said.

An Open University student was frustrated because BroncoDirect
does not allow those students to log in. Since they can’t log in,
they can’t see if there are openings left in classes. Many times
she had come to add a class only to discover there were no
openings.

There was no easy solution to her problem. Open University
students can only see the public schedule of classes, which doesn’t
show openings. Any changes to Bronco Direct must be worked out
among several departments.

“It distresses me, as it does my colleagues, to see a system
that doesn’t work,” said Gary Hamilton, interim dean of the College
of the Extended University.

Financial aid was another area of inquiry. A graduate student
named Charles had suspicions when he had problems refinancing his
student loan and was always referred to the same lender even though
there should be eight available.

Diana Minor, the director of Financial Aid, responded.

“We do not take any inducements from our lenders,” said
Minor.

The final question of the hour came from Brett Telford, a
second-year accounting student. He asked if anything could be done
about classes where the professor is unexpectedly switched because
he signs up for many classes based on the instructor and has had
the teacher changed in three consecutive quarters.

Ortiz said faculty members have no contract responsibility for
particular classes. At times, an opportunity to perform research or
a shortage of grant funds may make it impossible for them to teach
a class.

While Telford seemed to accept the explanation, he wasn’t
satisfied with Keshishian’s efforts to help students.

“There’s an ASI president not doing anything,” he said. “That’s
what really bothers me.”

Matthew Trotter can be reached by e-mail at news@thepolypost.com
or by phone at (909) 869-3747.

Presidents Address Recurring Student Issues

President Michael Ortiz speaks to students during Pizza with the Presidents

Presidents Address Recurring Student Issues

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