The final Pizza with the Presidents of the 2013-2014 academic year took place at the University Quad during U-Hour on April 8.
Event-goers were given the opportunity to ask Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz and Associated Students, Inc. President Christine Hall questions anonymously while being given free pizza. Those who could not attend were encouraged to ask questions via Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #AskOrtiz and #AskASI.
Among the many questions, the topics of smoking policies, alternative transportation, semester conversion and campus parking were noticeably prominent.
The event began on a humorous note with Ortiz pointing out the evidently long lines for the pizza.
“You’re probably wondering why there’s such long lines before we get started,” said Ortiz. “It’s so you don’t get pizza and run away. It’s so you actually get pizza and sit down and talk to us.”
The topic of CPP’s smoking policy and regulations came in to light when a question regarding the placement of ashtrays near the College of Business Administration courtyard was addressed. Ortiz noted the ashtrays were there for proper disposal of cigarette butts. However, he agreed that the ashtrays allowed mixed signals as to whether smoking was allowed, as the courtyard is within 25 feet of university facilities. Dean of College of Business Administration Richard Lapidus stated action was being done.
“We have ‘no smoking signs’ on the way,” said Lapidus.
Ortiz was asked another question about enforcing stricter smoking regulations, as the 25-foot rule is not always imposed properly. Ortiz replied that a collaborative effort is needed to maintain the policy.
“We, as an institution, cannot police the entire campus,” said Ortiz. “It takes some peer response to say ‘you can’t smoke here.’ You have to be willing to step up and say, ‘this is not a place you smoke.’”
The topic then shifted to alternative transportation, specifically bicycling, when both presidents were asked about future funding for a bicycle infrastructure. According to Ortiz, CPP is slowly adapting to alternative transportation, but funding is not easy.
“After you lose state funding for seven years, you have students paying so much tuition that it’s not funny,” said Ortiz. “It’s just the matter of how you pay for it.”
Walter Marquez, associate vice president of faculties planning and management, noted that the university is in its second phase of expanding the campus bike path, which was unveiled last quarter.
The topic was changed to semester conversion after a question asked for a reason for the university’s decision to change from quarters to semesters. Ortiz said that aside from all CSUs being instructed to change to a semester system, he believes semesters are cheaper and give students ample time to focus on classes.
“Many people believe this is a better education model for students that come here,” said Ortiz.
According to Ortiz, one of the main changes the university will see is the number of required units change from 180 to 120.
Tuition will not be affected.
Hall also added that a steering committee exists that focuses on the ins and outs of the semester conversion process.
One of the last hot topics brought up was about parking. A question asking why parking tickets were “so ridiculous” managed to garner a few laughs from the audience. Director of Parking & Transportation Services Michael Biagi noted that all universities were required to issue parking citations by state law and CPP mirrors the city of Pomona when dealing with citation costs.
When asked about the costs of parking, Ortiz reminded event-goers that students asked for parking utilities.
“Parking, the parking structure, and the costs of parking were something that students voted on,” said Ortiz. “That’s all been put in place by your predecessors trying to make things better for you.”
Many eyebrows were raised when the question of why faculty parking permits were $70 more than student parking permits. Ortiz stated that the university has noticed the large hike and has attempted to even the prices out.
When asked about why more parking permits are sold than actual spots available, Ortiz noted that the university has monitored parking patterns. The patterns are based off how many permits are sold.
Other noteworthy topics brought up at the event included the reconstruction of the CLA Building, the emergence of transcripts, the pathway to Collins College, and the construction of a new on-campus restaurant.
Before the event concluded, Ortiz took the chance to ask Hall which of her accomplishments was most significant as ASI President. Hall listed the Student Success Fee as her biggest accomplishment.
“Working with the university both years on what the Student Success Fee can do to help our students is probably one of the things I’m most proud of,” said Hall. “It’s probably taught me the most. It showed me how to work with the administration and have a positive impact on the campus.”
When asked about the event’s turnout, Hall was appreciative of it.
“I’m really pleased,” said Hall. “A lot of students come out because they want the free food, and since the lines are always long, they are forced to stick around rather than leave.”
Hall believed Pizza with the Presidents was a great way to help conclude her duties as ASI president.
“It means a lot to be one of the last students to be working with President Ortiz since he’s retiring,” said Hall. “And it’s a good way to end my senior year before I graduate.”
The April 8 event was Hall’s last Pizza with the Presidents as ASI President. Ortiz is stepping down in December.
When asked where the university currently stands, Hall believes the university is at an opportunistic standpoint.
“I think the university is going through a moment of opportunities,” said Hall. “We are at a great time with so many opportunities. Campus life, campus administration—there are so many changes. It’s an opportunity for a lot of growth for our university.”
Third-year Food Science student Christina Carlos enjoyed the event.
“I thought it was great,” said Carlos. “I like how anyone can ask the presidents anything.”
The next Pizza with the Presidents is expected to be held in the fall with a new ASI President.