By Natalia Achucarro
Cal Poly Pomona’s quarterly Pizza with the Presidents event drew students who were not only hungry for free pizza, but answers as well.
Students and faculty were able to submit anonymous questions to University President Soraya Coley and Associated Students, Inc. President Julian Herrera and receive answers on May 3 during U-Hour in the University Quad.
Coley began the event by acknowledging the graduating seniors and making sure that their presence and questions were addressed.
This spring quarter, the majority of questions reflected students’ concerns about construction, parking and transportation.
Michael Biagi, the director of Parking & Transportation Services, answered the questions about sufficient parking spaces and how the construction of the new parking structure would impact students.
Biagi assured students that the new structure is fully committed to student parking. Biagi went over some of the aspects of the structure to reinforce the benefits of the on-going construction.
“The new parking structure will have 1,825 spaces,” said Biagi to the crowd at the event. “One of those levels is the subterranean level. We intentionally built that structure low and long to preserve the feel that we have on campus.”
Parking concerns for Commencement were also explained during the event. Frustrated graduating students asked about the fee that attendees and guests must pay to park on campus during Commencement.
Biagi explained that there are strict guidelines that must be met through an implemented audit system. All visitors must be charged when parking and visiting the campus, said Biagi. He informed students that their current spring parking pass would cover the entire week of graduation events. Biagi assured students that buying a parking pass for Commencement would cover all of the celebrations as well.
Coley valued the questions about parking because of her lack of insight on the issue. She used it as an opportunity to learn and grow as president of the university.
“I think the question around the parking for Commencement was one that was interesting,” said Coley. “I’m still fairly new, and so it gives me an opportunity to learn about how we do things here. I thanked people for that question because I have not heard that practiced here before.”
Coley is appreciative of CPP students and wants to help them achieve their full potential.
“I really have such regards for our students and what they are going to contribute to our society,” said Coley. “I feel like we need to do as much as we can to facilitate that, support that, hear from them and to help them build a confidence and resiliency that it’s going to take for them to be successful.”
“The nature of work is changing, and there are so many opportunities, but we also have to connect the students with those opportunities. So, I’m their number one cheerleader,” added Coley.
Another issue that was a major topic at Pizza with the Presidents was the transportation systems that are available to students.
These questions were directed towards ASI and what it was doing to appease the bus and transit hardships for students.
Herrera and the ASI team are in the process of working with CPP and the transit systems to help with student transportation to campus.
“For the alternative modes of transportation, we have had communication with both the president and transit in trying to get some sort of partnership and trying to get some sort of pass for students to provide more accessible bus stops on campus,” said Herrera.
Herrera explained that ASI was in the process of sending out surveys to CPP students to evaluate the issue and obtain their feedback.
“We are trying to see if we can get bus stops in front of C lot and in more centralized locations,” said Herrera. “So, we are doing a survey to gage the students. If we do get favorable data for the cause, we can move forward and show that students want this, and we can try to get the ball rolling. That’s the purpose behind the survey for the alternative modes of transportation.”
Semester conversion was also addressed during the hour-long event. Herrera was pleased to inform students of new outlets that will be available to them during this transition.
“We are putting on college-specific forums,” said Herrera. “We are going to be going to each specific college and having open forums with their deans, associates deans and advisors from the college and having those students ask the student leaders who serve on the semester conversion committees as well as their advisors or associate how it’s going to affect them in their track to graduation.”
Aisha Islam, a third-year civil engineering student, was pleased that the event answered a multitude of questions that were already on her mind.
“The event was very thorough in covering a lot of different topics,” said Islam. “The questions that I came with were already addressed through different students. It was able to give me a piece of mind on different issues on campus.”
Islam was frustrated with the semester conversion topic and the minimal opportunities to prevent it from impacting students.
“I was very disappointed that the semester conversion is still on-going,” said Islam. “I feel awful for the incoming students and students that are going to be impacted by the conversion. It’s going to be a stressful time for them.”
Adrian Danganan / The Poly Post
Pizza with the Presidents
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