Campus, News

A quick Q&A with President Conoley

The Daily Forty-Niner sat down with President Jane Close Conoley to talk about a variety of subjects including parking and the new mascot.

You’ve talked about us breaking records in growth of students, what do you see in our physical growth to match that?

Conoley: I do not anticipate we’ll grow that much in physical face-to-face stuff. We are working hard with the city to actually open a downtown campus. It looks like it’s going to be a five year adventure at the slow rate that it’s going, but that will be an effort to bring education closer to full-time workers that maybe need to finish their degree or just get their certificate. So, I see that most of our growth will be in the online world, but a subset of that will probably be in the hybrid world where students will come on weekends as a way for students to meet at least some of the time. 

How do you think the new influx of students has affected things like parking?

Conoley: More and more of our students are full-time so most students come on campus and they stay there. They’re not leaving and not opening up a parking spot for other students on campus. So more students are taking between 12 and 15 [units]. That means they’re here, and if they’re lucky and they find a spot then they’re in that spot all day. 

You said that you have a parking committee, what kind of ideas are you guys coming up with?

Conoley: So last year we rented spots in big box stores down Bellflower, and we gave them a big break on the parking permit if you parked there and we shuttled you back. That actually was very effective; I know that about 400 students did that. I think we said eight weeks, but within six weeks [students] were able to park on campus anytime they wanted and they could always park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We just couldn’t access those spots this time, but our biggest current idea is to start right now looking for that off-site parking. 

We’re looking for apps also that maybe would give the student advance notice like, “Parking lot eight is filled don’t ride around there.” Also, related to off-campus parking, we’ve heard about some services where people rent a spot in their driveway, so we might push that out. I think this nearby off-site parking is the biggest thing. We tried this so-called stacked parking we haven’t been fully debriefed on it. I heard horror stories, but I don’t know what the real issue is.

In terms of additional parking we’re looking over near the Japanese Garden. That’s still in the environmental investigation, so it’s not a done deal, but we’d like to add another 500 spots over there. [The spots] would be used only during those first eight weeks and then we’ll leave it alone. 

We are talking to Uber and Lyft about subscription services that would make it as cheap to use Uber or Lyft as it is to buy a parking permit. 

I know that you’ve said that we are still transitioning to Sharks, but do you foresee us ever switching over completely?

Conoley: The short answer is I don’t know. Students change their minds over time, and it’s their mascot. The vote was for a new mascot. We didn’t vote for a new name of the teams or the athletic club. I thought that was made clear in the literature because we gave examples. 

I spent six years at Texas A&M where the mascot was an adorable collie named Reveille, but the team was called the Aggies. So that’s the model that was voted on, and it was in the literature. In my own mind, my life would have been easier if we had just been the Beach. Then I wouldn’t have to be spending all this money to create the shark. 

I saw on Twitter people writing me saying “What was the point of the election?” well the point of the election was to replace Prospector Pete with something else. As I said, I would have liked to go from Prospector Pete to the Beach because [there would be] no more money spent. I think 52% of the students chose the Shark, so that’s the way it was, democracy in action.

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