President Soraya Coley and Associated Students, Inc. President Jennifer Greenberg addressed students’ concerns regarding parking, student debt, the College of Science data leak and acknowledgment of cultural holidays, during the spring edition of Pizza with the Presidents on March 21.

Jennifer Greenberg and Soraya Coley at Pizza with the Presidents. (Isac Kim / The Poly Post)

The campus community gathered in the Bronco Student Center (BSC) to enjoy complimentary pizza and beverages and partake in the discussion by filling out question and comment cards or submitting questions on Twitter or Instagram. Bernardo Dargan, interim associate vice president and dean of students, served as the moderator. 

The first question was from a pre-filled question card, asking if there were plans to extend the library’s hours. Emma Gibson, interim dean of the library, explained that student data has proven a need for extended hours during peak times, which may be a possibility for the upcoming fall semester. 

She added that the library’s hours will be extended for finals week this semester and more information on it will be announced on the library’s website closer to finals week. A major concern among students was finding solutions to parking problems. 

University Police Department Chief Dario Robinson explained that connectivity plays a big role in creating a more efficient parking system. 

“It’s not just about the parking situation,” Robinson said. “It’s also about connectivity, trying to get the entire campus connected.” 

Robinson highlighted the most recent Bronco Express shuttle route addition, Route D, which brings students from the overflow lots to the Students Services Building (SSB) quicker than it would take for them to walk. He said the campus plans to implement similar tactics throughout other areas of campus.  

“We are working on other [parking] lots where people can be easily moved from those lots to campus,” he said. 

“As we work on how to park cars, we are also working on how to connect the parking lots to the campus a lot better, and how to move students, faculty and staff throughout in an easier fashion.”

In regard to the high cost of parking passes, Greenberg stated that parking has to be self-sufficient because the university can’t receive state funding for it.

“All of our parking passes are what pay for the entire services of parking, even down to the shrubbery and the lights that light those areas,” she said. “Any additional parking that we create or build, would have to impact the price of our parking passes.”

She suggested students find more sustainable, alternative methods to get to campus, such as using public transportation, carpooling, utilizing the Rideshare Program or even taking a Lyft or Uber to class, since a drop-off area was recently established near the SSB. 

Coley added that the transportation committee is also looking to bring rail lines that can transport students to and from campus. Increasing student debt and rising costs were also a common concern. 

The presidents outlined ways in which CPP can assist students financially. Coley recognized the different challenges students face throughout their college career and she urged students to take advantage of the well-being services on campus and the various scholarship opportunities.  

Vice President of Student Affairs Lea Jarnagin said the university plans on helping improve students’ financial literacy by making the scholarship application process easier and more accessible. Jarnagin also said there is an emergency financial fund in the works to help students in tough situations. 

“We know things happen while you’re a college student,” she said. “Despite your best efforts and your focus, there are circumstances that will come up that are unexpected to you, so we have been working very diligently to establish an emergency financial fund.” 

Students will be able to apply for the fund and receive it in the form of a grant. It is expected to be available by the end of spring semester. A question about the lack of communication regarding the relocation of the SSB, parking, tuition rates, the data leak and other issues, was asked by a student in the audience. Trevor Farrell, a second-year mathematics student, explained that he was among the 4,577 students affected by the data leak in the College of Sciences in January, when an Excel spreadsheet of students’ personal information was accidentally emailed to 940 computer science students and the situation troubled him.

“These are unsettling times for CPP,” Farrell said. 

He asked for a solution on how the university can avoid these kinds of situations in the future. 

Coley said the data leak incident was caused by human error and that new policies are being made to ensure there are safeguards in place. 

According to Coley, faculty should aim to keep students at the center of issues so there isn’t a lack of communication. Sue Monemi, a fourth-year gender, ethnic and multicultural studies student, asked for the university to celebrate cultural differences and recognize Persian New Year, which began on the first day of spring. 

“This may be a starting point in the history of Cal Poly [Pomona], to acknowledge marginalized voices and to present a beautiful mosaic culture,” Monemi said. 

In response, Coley asked students to participate in the upcoming cross-cultural retreat and said the university plans on establishing a hands-on program about diversity during summer student orientations. 

Coley also encouraged students to make use of their First Amendment and continue to engage in free speech. Students who missed the event can watch the livestream on CPP’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/calpolypomona/. 

There will also be an evening version of Pizza with the Presidents on Wednesday, April 10 in the BSC from 6-7 p.m.

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