Digging it

By Andrea Waitrovich

A $76 million project to expand the Residential Suites to
increase student housing on campus began with a groundbreaking
ceremony on Wednesday.

President Michael J. Ortiz, Vice President Student Affairs
Douglas Freer, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Christi
Chislet and Evan Jacobs, a representative of the architectural firm
Sasaki Associates, each spoke about how important this project is
for Cal Poly.

“This is really a monumental occasion and transformational
construction at the university because … [it] will make us one of
the five largest on-campus facilities in the CSU system,” said
Ortiz.

The project will help meet the demand of students wanting to
live on campus to experience a better college life.

“National studies have shown for decades the most important
factor outside the classroom for academic success, persistence
toward graduation and to be satisfied with the college experience,
is to live on campus,” said Freer.

Freer said it was a “no-brainer” for Cal Poly to aggressively
push the construction project.

The Residential Suites project will accommodate an additional
622 residential students and include a community center and
expanded Vista Cafe.

“What has been very frustrating for our department is we have an
extensive waiting list, not only for Student Housing Services, but
for the Village as well for the last couple of years,” said Megan
Stang, the University Housing Services director. “So for students
and our staff to have to hear that we don’t have enough housing for
them, it is a frustration.”

The expansion will be located where the classroom portals used
to stand. The new residential suites will have all the same
amenities as the current ones and a stovetop in the kitchen.

The purpose of the construction is to transform the commuter
college reputation Cal Poly has developed into a residential campus
culture. Many students have complained the campus is “too boring”
compared to other universities.

“I chose to live off campus this year because there wasn’t
enough student life on campus and the weekends were dead,” said
Kristine Barangan, a second-year kinesiology student.

In addition to the expansion, a new student quad will be
dedicated to all student events and informal gatherings, which will
promote more student interaction.

“I think it is a great idea because I have lived on campus, and
I didn’t like it. There was a lack of student involvement,” said
Katie Webb, a fourth-year organizational communication student. “I
hope it works [because] I think it is what the school really
needs.”

Some students are relieved to have more opportunities for
housing. Some students, however, are concerned about the $76
million budget for the project because of the recent budget cut,
which will increase next year’s tuition and cause classes to be cut
if passed.

“It sounds expensive. I don’t know if will make a difference,”
said Diego Godoy, a fourth-year organizational communication
student.

Even some who appreciate the changes on campus are worried
administrators are taking on too many improvement projects.

“I’ve been coming to this campus for six yeas, and I’ve seen a
lot of changes, which is good. But I feel like the campus is
focusing on [expanding] way too much,” said Tatiana Fuentes, a
second-year English student.

Stang said UHS has a private construction project savings
account, which is required at all universities, and the board
received the difference in bonds.

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