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SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – Beautiful, expanded outdoor spaces have recently been created for on-campus students to enjoy as they navigate their first experience of college during a pandemic.

More than 200 tables, 400 chairs, 200 brightly colored umbrellas, and 20 Adirondack chairs have been added to six new outdoor living areas across campus in an effort to further support student success throughout the pandemic.

The updated spaces provide more safe places for students to study, attend virtual classes and responsibly socialize, outside of their residence.

“These outdoor living spaces provide a compelling invitation for students to leave their dorm room and get outside to connect with the campus community,” Cal Poly Corporation Associate Executive Director Andrea Burns said. “We are blessed in San Luis Obispo with great weather, and investing in these spaces makes it possible for more students to comfortably study, eat and safely socialize outdoors.”

The team moved quickly within the last month to create, plan and execute the program. The umbrellas were placed in early October to create shade and a more pleasant environment on the Performing Arts Center plaza, Mustang Way, Dexter Lawn, Bonderson Quad, Campus Market, and Poly Canyon Village. Adirondack chairs have been placed in the University Union and Dexter Lawn.

To facilitate connectivity, ITS created 30 new Wi-Fi hotspots to provide coverage for the new areas.

“It’s so nice to escape from my dorm and have the chance to be out in the fresh air to do homework and socially distance with my friends,” first-year agriculture and plant science student Dillon Bunch said. “The updated strong connectivity makes all the difference when trying to get work done outside.”

All of the tables and chairs were sourced from Campus Dining operations, including new outdoor furniture from Vista Grande that wasn’t being used in the facility due to public health restrictions, and furniture scheduled to be removed for the renovation of Building 19. The re-sourced furniture supports the efforts of a very sustainable campus agenda.   

The effort to create these new areas was a collaboration between the Cal Poly, ASI and the Cal Poly Corporation. Each of these organizations contributed funding and resources to the project.

Key members of the project task force were Anthony Palazzo, Michele Winterfeldt and Jude Fledderman from the university, Daren Connor from ASI, as well as Burns, Mike Thornton and Russell Monteath from Cal Poly Corporation.