Cal Poly students sent a clear message this week that they don’t want to pay an additional $597 per year in fees to expand and remodel the University Union.
In a two-day vote held Wednesday and Thursday through the university’s online portal, 58 percent of participating students cast a “no” vote on the estimated $180 million project.
The expansion would have added amenities to the centrally located student center, such as an on-campus bar and grill serving wine and beer; an expanded coffeehouse; new, technologically advanced study spaces; and a multiuse event space for movies, academic lectures and small concerts, among other features.
Nearly 32 percent of Cal Poly students — or 6,465 students — cast a vote to advise Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong on how to proceed. The project was initiated by the student government, Associated Students Inc., and would have been solely funded by a student fee increase that would have been instituted in 2020.
ASI Student Government respects the student voice and will continue researching ways to meet the current and future needs of Cal Poly students with regards to the University Union.
Sevelyn VanRonk, chair of the University Union Advisory Board
Armstrong has the ultimate decision-making authority on whether to move the project forward, but he announced in a letter to the campus community that he would honor the “no” vote.
“I am confirming that I will honor the vote and will not approve the UU Fee,” Armstrong said. “I want to thank everyone who worked tirelessly on the referendum, and thank all students who voted.”
Associated Students Inc. issued a press release after the vote outcome.
“ASI Student Government respects the student voice and will continue researching ways to meet the current and future needs of Cal Poly students with regards to the University Union,” said Sevelyn VanRonk, chair of the University Union Advisory Board.
No specifics were mentioned about how the University Union, built in 1969, could be upgraded without a fee increase.
An April survey of 4,800 students showed that 68 percent would likely support a fee increase for the upgrades, according to the ASI website. Supporters wanted a modernized facility, while opponents objected to increasing fees on top of the costs to attend Cal Poly. The cost to attend the university is about $25,000 per year, including tuition, living expenses, books and transportation.