By Christopher Galvan
The difficulty of parking on campus and concerns about semester conversion dominated this quarter’s Pizza with the Presidents event at Cal Poly Pomona.
CPP president Soraya Coley took part in her first quarterly events on Thursday night with Associated Students, Inc. president James Cox. Coley opened the forum with warm remarks to students, faculty and staff that may have been meeting her for the first time.
“I am so pleased to join you this evening with the first Pizza with President Coley,” she said. “This is my 36th day and I have already had many opportunities to engage with student organizations. I am going on what I call listening tours” with the hopes of trying to ascertain areas we are proud of as well as areas that we would like to have opportunities for growth and advancement. This occasion tonight really allows me a chance to listen as well as to answer questions.”
Students in attendance were asked to submit questions to moderators directly, while others asked their questions online using the hashtags #askColey and #askASI on Twitter.
Fourth-year communication student Nestor Gama was excited to see the new president and hear some of her ideas for CPP.
“I am starting to admire the new president as much as I used to admire President [Michael] Ortiz,” said Gama. “She seems to have a lot of good ideas. I know parking will come up, but I want to know if she can do anything about classes and making [them] more available for us.”
While the first question of the night ” whether or not Coley supports building a nap room on campus ” filled the auditorium with cautious laughter, the questions that followed encompassed many of the students’ desires to improve their university. Questions about parking congestion, semester conversion, outdated campus technology and the university smoking policy continued throughout the hour.
As questions began, Coley was quickly asked why parking is so onerous on campus, and if she thought it was fair to charge students regular parking fees for having to park in an overflow lot.
“At my first [CSU] Board of Trustees meeting as your president a [proposal for additional parking] was approved,” said Coley. “It may not seem that its convenient” you may have to walk a little distance, but we are adding more parking space.”
Coley then deferred to Parking and Transportation Services Director Michael Biagi for a more detailed answer.
“The use of the overflow lot continues to decline,” said Biagi. “In the fall, we had [the overflow lot] open everyday until late into the evening.”
Currently, the overflow lot is only open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. Biagi says that it will likely be used less in the spring quarter, keeping in line with university enrollment trends.
“We do intend to make improvements to the lot, so we can’t make it free,” said Biagi. “We are going to spend a lot of money out there to pave that lot and to make it a nice parking lot for you to use in the future.”
Questions then turned to the semester conversion, a popular topic among CPP students and educators who have traditionally favored the quarter system.
When asked why CPP is switching to semesters as opposed to staying on the quarter system, Coley deferred to Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Marten denBoer who said that transfer students will directly benefit from the change.
“There is a number of reasons why we are making this conversion,” said denBoer. “One of them is transfer students. Almost half of our new students this year are transfer students, the vast majority of whom come from community colleges and virtually all community colleges in California are on the semester system. Aligning course credits and transfers between a semester two-year program and a quarter four-year program is not always a trivial exercise.”
Following several questions related to the semester conversion, the conversation shifted to students’ concerns with the oft-used BroncoDirect and PeopleSoft portals. Due to the amount of activities students access through BroncoDirect, Coley was asked what improvements are in store for the future to help modernize the software.
Coley deferred to Vice President of Information Technology John McGuthry for details.
“One of our first priorities is not necessarily going to be making the interface you currently use nicer, but to enable you to use a mobile device to access [BroncoDirect],” said McGuthry. “I think the most important upgrade we can make is to enable mobile connectivity.”
Coley was later asked what the best part of CPP is, and she said that the students’ engagement and creativity has been the most upstanding part of our community.
“I am very impressed with the caliber of your commitment in addressing issues in the community,” she said. “It is a climate of commitment to your success that really makes me happy to be here to continue the outstanding legacy that President Ortiz has left.”
Upon concluding her first Pizza with the Presidents the university president had one word to describe how the event felt: “Affirming.”
Alan Rivera / The Poly Post
Coley’s First Pizza with the President
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