Cal Poly students to clean up SLO neighborhoods

Owen Woodrow Schwaegerle, Cal Poly’s student body president.
Owen Woodrow Schwaegerle, Cal Poly’s student body president. Courtesy photo

In recent years, some residents of the San Luis Obispo neighborhoods near Cal Poly have been fed up with students leaving trash behind, in addition to other complaints such as partying and noise.

Their concerns have led to discussions at community and campus forums and even an unsuccessful neighborhood homeowner-driven lawsuit to try to stop the new dorms from going in at Slack Street and Grand Avenue.

On April 30, the town and gown issue of trying to keep the neighborhood tidy will be marked by a student-driven effort to bring community-minded volunteers together to clean up trash on streets surrounding the campus.

Dozens of Cal Poly students from various student groups will canvass the neighborhoods to conduct trash cleanup near campus on Foothill, Grand and Hathway streets.

Owen Woodrow Schwaegerle, Cal Poly’s student body president, said he expects more than 300 people to participate in “Serve SLO Day,” set to take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by a barbecue. Participants will meet behind Cal Poly’s Recreation Center, which is Building 43 on campus.

The more service events and interactions with neighbors, the more we can break down those barriers.

Owen Woodrow Schwaegerle, Cal Poly student body president

Student groups participating in the cleanup include the Associated Students Inc., the student body government; Greek life; and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

Anyone from the community is welcome to join the effort as the groups spread out through the neighborhoods. The neighborhood group Residents for Quality Neighborhoods already has signed up to join.

“We hope to go out, knock on doors and help community members for a few hours in the morning,” Schwaegerle said. “Then we will all head back to the ASI Rec Center. We’ll give out 150 free hot dogs as part of the barbecue. It’s going to be a great day.”

A speaker, as yet unnamed, will address the audience on the importance of community service.

After partying students caused a roof collapse on Hathway Avenue last year, a forum was held by Cal Poly administrators with students and community members that focused on how to better improve student behavior in the community, including issues relating to noise, trash and rowdy behavior.

Schwaegerle said that the wild party where the roof collapsed was a perfect storm of students looking to meet up for a party and the word spreading until it “exploded.”

But he said this year, hospital visits because of students overdrinking have gone down, according to the data he has reviewed, and he believes strides have been made in relations with the San Luis Obispo community.

“The relationship between the community and campus was pretty tense last year,” Schwaegerle said. “I think this year, things have improved. There’s always room to get better and be a better neighbor. The more service events and interactions with neighbors, the more we can break down those barriers.”

If you go

SLO Serve Day: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 30. Starts behind the Cal Poly Recreation Center. Participants will pick up trash in the neighbhorhoods and enjoy hot dogs. Anyone is welcome.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune