Fee, safety and parking dominate ‘Pizza’

Fee, safety and parking dominate ‘Pizza’

Ortiz speaks to the crowd.

The Student Success Fee, campus safety and availability of parking at Cal Poly Pomona dominated discussion during Pizza with the Presidents on Thursday, Nov. 1.

The quarterly U-Hour forum is open to members of the Cal Poly Pomona community, who may submit questions regarding Cal Poly Pomona and issues affecting the university. Participants were invited to write questions on notecards during the event, or utilize social media with the hash tags #askASI or #askOrtiz to ask questions ahead of time.

Although the Student Success Fee was alluded to by Associated Students, Inc. President Chris Osuala in his opening statement, the first question referencing the fee – and the distribution of its revenue – did not arise until 10 minutes after the forum began.

“What we looked at was where the different programs were in terms of funding and what the likelihood would be if they lose additional funding and we’d try to make programs whole by adding a certain amount of funding to each of the divisions,” said University President Michael Ortiz.

Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Dominguez Hills are as of press time the only California State University campuses that lack some form of the Student Success Fee. If approved, the fee would take effect in the academic year 2013-14 at $74 per quarter and progressively increase over the following two years to $129 per quarter.

The fee’s revenue is expected to be used to fund, at large, additional class sections, expand funding for academic student groups, update classroom equipment, provide additional academic services and fund diversity programs.

“It was a long process to go through to come up with that budget,” said Ortiz. “[The budget] focuses on what the needs are, what the budget impact will be and trying to continue to provide services as [much as] we can.”

In the midst of two armed robberies in the span of less than a week and auto thefts that consistently plague the university, it should have come as little surprise that campus safety would be addressed.

One student, whose note card was read aloud by Director of Public Affairs Uyen Mai during the event, said they were concerned about how easy it was able to sneak into Alamitos the day after a gunman entered the same dormitory, where he restrained and robbed a student on the first floor.

“If you look at campuses across the country, this is really a safe campus,” said Ortiz.  “We have very few crimes against people and we do have car thefts and things that happen, but not against people. This is a very unique situation . . . this is a relatively calm and safe campus, so people quit thinking about safety, and I don’t think we can ever do that.”

University Police Chief Michael Guerin, who has worked at Cal Poly Pomona for eight years, said the university averages approximately two to four robberies per year. He also tried to assuage concern about campus crime.

“This year we’ve had two extra [robberies], and that makes it notorious,” said Guerin. “The last robbery was a big deal and we take it as a big deal, but we want to make sure that you keep it in perspective: In contrast to the big world out there, our crime rate is comparably low.”

Parking was also discussed to a considerable degree during Thursday’s forum.

With the newly repaved project on South Campus Drive completed, students expressed concern that they are no longer permitted to park along that stretch of road. The City of Pomona, which is responsible for that property’s upkeep, is expected to designate bike lanes along the road to accommodate an increasing number of cyclists in Pomona and promote cycling to campus all together.

While Ortiz is spearheading the campus initiative to reduce its carbon footprint, some students questioned how requiring freshman to live on campus, as is now campus policy, would meet that goal. Some students’ questions alluded to criticism that the policy would only tighten up the number of already few available spaces.

Ortiz alluded to the Cal Poly Pomona Master Plan, which calls for many changes around campus including new dormitories and two new parking structures.

“It all has to do with supply and demand,” said Ortiz regarding the parking structures outlined in the Master Plan. “If the students demand those parking structures, then we’ll have to respond to that.”

Although students did appear to demand more parking on campus, any implementation of the master plan’s parking structures exists in the abstract for the foreseeable future.

To see the complete Q&A, click here for the university’s Storify.

For more information, visit asi.csupomona.edu