Poly Parent News: March 2019

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Director's Message

Spring is in the air at Cal Poly! The rainy weather we've been experiencing around SLO is providing a good excuse for students to spend time indoors studying and preparing for winter quarter final exams. The anticipation of spring break is palpable around campus!

As parents and supporters, it is interesting to note the unique transition from winter quarter to spring quarter. Spring break is the shortest quarter break and provides far less time to detach, decompress and feel refreshed before starting a new quarter. Unlike fall and winter quarter with much longer academic breaks, spring break feels more like a pit stop on a long road trip. With only one week off, it is important that students spend their time wisely and consider how little time they have to get recharged and prepared for a new quarter. Before they know it, they will be on the road again with their sights set on summer! 

We hope to see many of you at SLO Discovery Weekend this March 7-10 and at Open House in April! Be sure to book your hotels now and make arrangements to join us!

Hope to see you soon!

Tessa Stevens Espinoza, M.A. Ed.
Senior Director of Strategy and Engagement

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Register for SLO Discovery Weekend

Did you miss January’s SLO Discovery Weekend? There's still time to register for the March 7-10 weekend!

SLO Discovery Weekend offers special events and excursions to experience San Luis Obispo (SLO) both on and off campus.

Registration is $30 a person and includes access to a local SLO walking tour (up to an $85 value!), a Cal Poly Men’s basketball ticket, basketball pregame tent access, family fun campus activities and access to local excursions throughout the weekend! View the complete weekend schedule at

Registrants staying in SLO hotels will also receive $100 cash to spend as you choose around town, a swag bag full of Cal Poly and SLO goodies and access to exclusive local business deals and discounts, so be sure to register and book your hotel today!

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You’re Invited to Cal Poly’s Open House: April 11-13, 2019

Open House weekend begins with Campus Preview Night at Farmers' Market on Thursday, April 11 from 6–9 p.m. Explore downtown and experience San Luis Obispo’s world-famous Farmers' Market. Cal Poly Clubs and Organizations will be present to showcase what they have to offer.

The weekend continues on April 12 for Admitted Students' Discovery Day. Friday kicks off with a University Welcome where you will hear from campus leaders and students about their Mustang Legacies. Throughout the day, experience Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” philosophy through sessions from your academic college and interactive classrooms and experiences. In the evening, we invite you to engage with other prospective and current Cal Poly students at Friday Nite Invite. Additionally, parents and supporters are invited to join New Student & Transition Programs for Coffee House to learn about what’s next for new students on their Cal Poly journey.

Finally, join us Saturday, April 13, as the entire Mustang community comes to campus to celebrate the Mustang Legacy during Poly Royal Celebration. Festivities start with the Poly Royal Parade and continue all day with the Campus Showcase, featuring over 200 clubs and organizations, Dexter Stage, and additional premier special events including:

  • Poly Royal Truck & Tractor Pull
  • Poly Royal Rodeo
  • Alumni Beer and Wine Garden (open to all 21 and over)  

Click here to RSVP for Open House today!

Whether you’re a new or current student, family member, community member, or a returning alum, we’re excited to see you at this year’s Open House! Stay up to date with the most recent schedule using Cal Poly Now, the official application of Cal Poly Student Affairs. Download now from the App Store and Google Play.

For more information about Open House 2019, contact New Student & Transition Programs at or 805-756-2400.

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Support Your Student during Finals Week

As Winter Quarter finals approach, your student may be feeling a heightened amount of stress regarding classes, tests, and projects. Cal Poly offers several different resources to help minimize students’ stress levels and promote healthy study habits. 

Also, remind your student of the following tips for managing their stress

  • Incorporate some “downtime” into your daily routine; go for a walk, listen to music, read for pleasure
  • Begin practicing relaxation techniques; meditate, practice breathing exercises
  • Don’t ignore your body; eat well-balanced meals, exercise, get adequate sleep each night 
  • Take positive steps to change what you can; prioritize, break large tasks down into smaller ones, organize 

If you’d like to send your student a little extra love while they prepare for finals, you can send them a care package through the University Store.

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Making the Most of Spring Break

Whether your student is going abroad or staying local for the Spring Break, you should have a discussion with them about safety. Here are some safety tips you can share with them: 

  • Let a friend or family know your itinerary, destination locations, and contact information for others you are traveling with 
  • Wear sunscreen, whether at the beach or in the snow
  • Keep your phone charged; consider carrying an extra portable power bank
  • Designate a safe driver, both to and from any destination(s)
  • Consider carrying a small travel first aid kit 
  • Let your friends know where you're going and when you'll be back. Utilize the TapShield personal safety app.  The safety app is available free to all Cal Poly students, faculty and staff. 
  • If you see a questionable situation, be an active bystander and check in. If you're not comfortable intervening yourself, ask someone who is.
  • For more information on personal safety tips, visit UPD’s website, HERE.

Spring Break can also be a great time to rest and get some planning done for the upcoming quarter and summer. Consider the following Spring Break plans and projects with your student:

  • Your student should ensure that their housing arrangements are finalized for the upcoming summer and/or academic year during this time
  • Your student can start planning for their summer; will they be enrolling in summer courses? Finding an internship or job? Traveling?
    • Cal Poly’s Alternative Breaks program offers service trips during the major academic breaks where students can travel and engage in service activities around the country and the world. Encourage your student to start planning for a summer Alternative Breaks trip!
  • Has your student mapped out their upcoming academic year? Encourage them to spend some time considering what courses they need to take each quarter in order to stay on track
  • Spring break is a great time to connect with family members that many students haven’t seen since the winter break. You can also get some great family time in without going far or planning large vacations. Simple things like family dinners or game nights can help students reconnect and rest at the same time.
  • Sometimes the break can be used for just that – a relaxing break from school work and college life. Spring break doesn’t have to be packed full with activities and traveling. Allow your student to get the rest and recuperation that they need before starting another quarter.

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The Disability Resource Center: An Achievement in Academic Equity

By Jarod Urrutia, Fourth-year student, Journalism

Cal Poly’s Disability Resource Center (DRC) is more than a means of support for students.

It’s also more than a provider for accommodations.

The center is an achievement in collaboration, communication, education, and accessibility. Most importantly, it’s making a difference for students in need.

“I’ve really been just super grateful to the DRC,” said second-year biology student Ethan McGhee. “It’s really been nothing but a positive experience for helping me. They’re fantastic people.”

McGhee, who has been diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia and central auditory processing disorder, is one of more than 1,900 students who utilize the DRC’s services. The center’s mission is to make Cal Poly a positive, more equitable experience for McGhee and other students with temporary or permanent disabilities by combining the use of new and emerging technology, individualized accessibility plans, and ongoing communication with faculty. 

McGhee was diagnosed in high school and considered the disability accommodations of each university during the college application process.

“It was during spring break in my senior year when I first met my access specialist (at Cal Poly),” said McGhee of his initial experience with the DRC. “She went through the whole system of how to get set up with the DRC and receive my accommodations. She made it really, really easy and that definitely made a big impact on my decision to come here.”

Other students, meanwhile, appreciate the DRC’s ability to adapt to their changing needs.

Joey Freschet was diagnosed with ADHD during his sophomore year at Cal Poly and at one point, found himself facing academic disqualification due to his struggles with the disability. At the time, he was already receiving accommodations for dyslexia.

“Once my parents and I figured out something was wrong, I was able to get diagnosed,” said Freschet, who graduated with a degree in industrial engineering in the winter of 2018. “After that, the DRC was able to change their accommodations and give me what I needed.”

Overcoming hurdles

According to Assistant Director Amy Gode, the DRC aims to “level out the playing field” for all students and make a difference in their academic careers.

“Students with disabilities have a lower graduation rate than students without, likely because something is getting in the way,” she said of the hurdles facing students with disabilities.

Gode noted that the center currently serves about 8.7 percent of the student body. Still, roughly 12 percent of the student body likely qualifies for DRC services, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Often, she added, students simply don’t know that they can receive accommodations.

She noted that DRC staff are trained to understand how disabilities affect learning and can offer a variety of options to use that support access.

“So often students who are diagnosed with depression don't necessarily think that they would qualify to receive accommodations,” Gode said. “Unfortunately, that happens a lot, and that means we don’t end up seeing some students until maybe their junior or senior year. What we can do for them is look at how those symptoms are impacting them in getting through school, because there are accommodations we can put in place to help them minimize those impacts and show their capabilities.”

Another common barrier for students, she added, is the stigma of standing out among their peers for seeking help.

“There’s definitely that stigma,” said Gode, who noted that the use of accommodations will never appear on a student’s transcript, while diagnoses are only shared on a need-to-know basis with faculty. “A lot of the time, students come in and say that they don’t want anything special. We don’t provide anything special — just what is reasonable and mandated by federal law so we can do what’s best for students.”

Assistive technology

Gode noted that one of the most popular accommodations requested by students is the LiveScribe Smartpen. The center has more than 300 units currently on loan.

“It’s a smart pen that records lectures as students take notes, so they can go back to a specific part of their notes and hear what a lecturer said during that time,” she said.

For students like McGhee, whose disabilities make him “a few seconds behind in auditory processing,” using the LiveScribe Smartpen to review a math problem while listening to his professor’s explanation on solving it is the key to studying productively.

McGhee is also one of several students who qualify for alternative testing, which provides him with the option to take midterms and other exams in a distraction reduced environment. Gode noted that alternative testing takes every possible distraction into account, including noise and visual movements

“I take my tests, midterms and finals in a small DRC testing room with about 20 students max, and it’s completely distraction-free,” explained McGhee. “This reduces a lot of what would be going on in my head in, say, a big lecture hall, where there are a lot of distractions like desk tapping or somebody dropping something.”

Not every accommodation provided by the DRC is for on-campus use. Gode noted that for some students, many of the same challenges persist away from the classroom. To that end, DRC offers alternative formats for textbooks, such as accessible e-text, which can be read aloud by assistive technology software such as Read & Write.

“The reading pace can be adjusted and it highlights words to support visual tracking,” she said, “It really helps students who have difficulty reading or staying focused.”

McGhee added that the DRC already has many commonly used textbooks on file and ready to go, making it easier for students to utilize the service.

“While I’m reading, I have a hard time keeping up with the pace,” he said. “Having that auditory aspect (from Read and Write Gold), I can follow along and that’s really huge for me.”

At the end of the day, Gode noted, the DRC is about helping students reach their potential – no matter how reluctant they might be to receive help at first.

“I think what’s great about our staff is that we really do our best to make it about the student,” she said. “We’re passionate about promoting disability as diversity, and ensuring equity – just people who want to help students succeed and feel included.”

For Freschet, the DRC’s willingness to help and work with faculty to get him back on track academically made all the difference in his pursuit of a Cal Poly degree.

“Without the DRC and the help they’ve given me,” he said, “I probably wouldn’t be at Cal Poly now.”

Interested in supporting the Disability Resource Center and the students it serves? Visit For additional information about the Disability Resource Center, visit

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Resource Spotlight – CLA Underrepresented Students Network

Cal Poly has a variety of great resources for a diverse student body. Each month we will highlight one that may be beneficial or of interest to your student.

The College of Liberal Arts Underrepresented Students Network (CLA USN) is a peer mentoring program for underrepresented students in our college. Mentors can meet informally with mentees to provide support and resources on Cal Poly’s campus. USN is not a counseling service, but a place to talk with peers who can identify with the experiences of other underrepresented students. Meet the mentors online here.

Questions can be directed to Dr. Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti, Associate Dean for Diversity and Curriculum (

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Cal Poly Named a Most Promising Place to Work in Student Affairs for 2019

    The American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education have again named Cal Poly one of the Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs for 2019.The university previously earned the distinction in 2017.

    Cal Poly was selected from hundreds of higher education institutions across the country to receive the award for its focus on workplace diversity, staffing practices and workplace environment. Additional categories included family friendliness, salary and benefits, and professional development opportunities.

    “I’m honored to receive this amazing award on behalf of our division,” said Keith Humphrey, Cal Poly’s vice president for Student Affairs. “This is an award for every person in Student Affairs and all of our partners throughout the university who have made this possible. I am proud of our Student Affairs staff for the work they do every day and for their efforts to create an environment that is welcoming, safe and equitable for all.”

    Humphrey said the university and division are committed to working toward additional solutions that improve the campus community and the lives of the individuals who live and work at Cal Poly.

    “Our community and its people are our most important assets,” Humphrey said. “I’m excited by the work we’ve already done and even more so by the important work that lies ahead as we continue to improve our campus climate.”

    Cal Poly is one of three California State University (CSU) campuses to receive the national award this year, along with CSU Channel Islands and Sonoma State University. The complete findings will be published in the March 7 magazine edition of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

    The list of 20 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs also includes: Bowling Green State University, Brevard College, College of William & Mary, James Madison University, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Rhode Island College, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Saint Louis University, Samuel Merritt University, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University-Columbus, University of Hawaii-Hilo, University of Maryland- Baltimore, University of Vermont, University of West Georgia, Virginia Tech, and West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

    About Cal Poly Student Affairs

    Cal Poly’s Student Affairs supports student success through the Cal Poly experience by promoting Learn by Doing opportunities, delivering student-centered programs, encouraging personal growth, and empowering our students to live within a safe, healthy, inclusive and supportive environment. For more information, visit

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    Is Your Student Graduating this June? Sign Up for Spring Commencement 2019 Emails

    Parents, supporters, family, and friends can sign up for Spring Commencement 2019 information emails HERE to stay in the loop about commencement ceremonies, regalia, parking, tickets, and more.

    You can also follow Commencement on social media on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date with the latest news and announcements.

    Visit for ongoing updates and new information throughout commencement season!

    Contact the Commencement Office at 805-756-1600 or with any additional questions or for more information.

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    Recommended Parent Reading List

    Ever wish there was a how-to guide on parenting college students? While there might not be a manual on raising young adults, there are several helpful resources, articles and books to help you support your student. Each quarter, our office will recommend a recent and relevant book or article for parents and supporters of students of all identities and backgrounds.

    Winter Quarter Reading Recommendation: “The Gift Of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed” by Jessica Lahey

    In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults.

    Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. As teacher and writer Jessica Lahey explains, even though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children’s well being, they aren’t giving them the chance to experience failure—or the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems.

    Overparenting has the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine their education, Lahey reminds us. Teachers don’t just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. They teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight—important life skills children carry with them long after they leave the classroom.

    Providing a path toward solutions, Lahey lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most importantly, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s failures. Hard-hitting yet warm and wise, The Gift of Failure is essential reading for parents, educators, and psychologists nationwide who want to help children succeed.

    Want to start a local Cal Poly parent reading circle? Browse Facebook for the many local Facebook groups created and maintained by current and past Cal Poly Proud parents. Happy reading!

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     Important Dates and Deadlines

    March 1 | Seventh installment of housing payment plan and dining payment plan due for 2018-19. A $25 charge applies to late payments. (See fee schedules for payment amount.)

    March 1 | Third installment of housing and dining payment plan due for new Winter/Spring 2019 residents.

    March 8 | End of first round of registration appointments

    March 11 | Second round of registration appointment rotations.

    March 11 | Enrollment increases to 22 units and waitlist remains at 16 units.

    March 11 | Registration fees due 4pm. Excludes Financial Aid and other certain student groups. Contact the Student Accounts office for more information

    March 11 | Students on the Spring Quarter 2019 interest list students are sent an email asking if they are still interested in campus housing. Those who respond back will be emailed application instructions. Students with ADA needs should contact Disability Resource Center (DRC).

    March 15 | End of second round of registration appointments

    March 16 | Open Enrollment Begins

    March 18 | Spring Quarter 2019 Housing License Agreement due.

    March 18-22 | Winter quarter finals

    March 22 | Last day for continuing students to edit the 2019-20 housing application through University Housing single-click access on the Cal Poly Portal. Edits to application do not change the application submission date.

    March 25 | Class Cancellation: Students may be dropped from all enrolled classes if Registration Fees are not paid by 4p.m. Excludes Financial Aid and other certain student groups.

    March 25 | 1st financial aid disbursement

    March 26 | Financial aid deferred fees past due

    March 26-April 1 | Spring Break

    Mach 27-29 | Charges are posted/payment is due for new Spring Quarter 2019 campus housing residents. (Pay via the Cal Poly Portal, Money Matters tab).

    March 29 | 1st direct deposit refund for excess financial aid

    March 30 | End of Housing License period for Winter Quarter 2019 Residence Halls, Cerro Vista Apartments and Poly Canyon Village Apartments.

    March 31 | Beginning of Spring Quarter 2019 license period for Residence Halls, Cerro Vista Apartments and Poly Canyon Village Apartments. New students begin moving in at 3 p.m. University Housing Offices are open 3-6 p.m.

    April 1 | Final installment of housing payment plan and dining payment plan due for 2018-19. A $25 charge applies to late payments. (See fee schedules for payment amount.)

    April 1 | Academic holiday | Cesar Chavez's birthday observed

    April 2 | Spring Quarter 2019 classes begin.

    April 8 | Intrahall trades (within the same hall) begin.

    April 10 | Interhall trades (to another hall) begin.

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    Upcoming Events

    March 1 | The Tempest | 8-10:30pm | Spanos Theatre

    Additional dates: March 2, 7, 8, 9

    March 2 | Women’s Basketball vs. CSUN | 2-4:30pm | Mott Gym

    March 2 | Cal Poly Jazz Concert | 8-10:30pm | Performing Arts Center

    March 2 | Smile and Nod Winter Show | 7:10-10pm | Philips Hall

    March 3 | Cal Poly Symphony Winter Concert: Student Soloist Showcase | 3-6pm | Performing Arts Center

    Every year, the symphony holds auditions for student soloists of any major. The prize for several of them is a performance with the symphony! Come hear this year’s winners and celebrate musical talent from across the university.

    March 5 | Why Give Week - Taco 'Bout Philanthropy Tuesday | 10am-1pm | Dexter Lawn

    A part of Why Give Week, Taco 'Bout Philanthropy Tuesday will feature amazing student community groups from the Center for Service in Action sharing ways Cal Poly students can get involved in philanthropy through service. Students who participate will learn about philanthropy AND receive a free taco!

    March 5 | California Law Schools Admissions Panel | 11:10am-12pm | Building 186 Room C102

    Admissions officers and Directors from Chapman University, Loyola Law School Los Angeles, University of San Francisco and University of California Irvine will be hosting Law Admission Panel on campus to discuss the application process, and how to overcome the hurdles in applying to law school! This is a great opportunity to better understand the steps necessary in applying to these law schools!

    March 7-10 | SLO Discovery Weekend

    March 7 | BAEC Student Org Mixer | 5-7pm | Performing Arts Center Lobby

    The BAEC Student Organization Mixer is an annual event focused on gathering student organizations who support Black students on campus to be able to come together for a night of conversation, food, and fun.

    March 7 | Men’s Basketball vs. UC Irvine | 7-9pm | Mott Gym

    March 7 | Cal Poly Vocal Student Recital | 7:30-9:30pm | Building 45 Room 218

    March 8 | Men’s Tennis vs. UNLV | 12-4pm | Mott Gym and Tennis Courts

    March 8 | Baseball vs. Columbia | 6-9pm | Baggett Stadium

    March 9 | Women’s Tennis vs. Sacramento State | 10am-3pm | Mott Gym and Tennis Courts

    March 9 | SLO Symphony Classics IV No Ties Allowed! | 11am-1pm | Performing Arts Center

    March 9 | Baseball vs. Columbia | 1-8pm | Baggett Stadium

    March 9 | Master Class with San Francisco Symphony Horn Player Jessica Valeri | 3:10-5pm | Building 45 Room 218

    Jessica Valeri, a horn player with the San Francisco Symphony, will present a master class for Cal Poly music students. During the class, several of the Music Department’s leading horn students will perform and be critiqued. Valeri has participated in many recording projects including a 2012 Grammy-nominated recording with The Bay Brass, and has played with the Grand Teton, the Arizona and the Lakes Area music festivals. She currently serves as a coach for the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, and as a musician advisor in the planning and programming of the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music educational concerts.

    March 9 | Men’s Basketball vs. UCSB | 7-9pm | Mott Gym

    March 9 | SLO Symphony Classics IV Concert | 7:30-9:30pm | Performing Arts Center

    March 10 | A Historic Evening with Eva Schloss | 7-9:30pm | Chumash Auditorium

    Eva Schloss is a Holocaust survivor, peace activist, international speaker, humanitarian, and step sister to Anne Frank who wrote "Diary of Anne Frank". She will be speaking about her experiences.

    March 10 | Men’s Tennis vs. Denver | 11am-2pm | Mott Gym and Tennis Courts

    March 10 | Baseball vs. Columbia | 1-4pm | Baggett Stadium

    March 11 | Change of Major Workshop | 4:10-5pm | Building 26 Room 106

    March 11 | Wine Business Trends | 6:10-8pm | Philips Hall

    Rob McMillan is the SVP of the Silicon Valley Bank and founder of the Wine Division. He will be traveling to San Luis Obispo to present industry trends to our students.

    March 14 | Cal Poly Student Instrumental Recital | 11am-12pm | Building 45 Room 218

    March 14 | Monty Python’s Spamalot | 7:30-10pm | Performing Arts Center

    March 15 | Jacob Jonas The Company | 8-10pm | Spanos Theatre

    March 16 | Men’s Tennis vs. Utah | 12-4pm | Mott Gym and Tennis Courts

    March 16 | Cal Poly Choirs Winter Concert: All of Us | 8-10:30pm | Performing Arts Center

    A collaborative effort of several Cal Poly departments, this concert will be centered around the themes of diversity and acceptance. The musical selections will challenge the audience to confront some of the more difficult topics in our world today, such as racism and mental health, while also celebrating our differences and encouraging unity. Visual elements will be woven into the concert as well, creating a complete sensory experience for the audience.

    March 22 | Baseball vs. St. Mary’s | 6-9pm | Baggett Stadium

    March 23 | Women’s Tennis vs. University of Nevada, Reno | 11am-4pm | Mott Gym and Tennis Courts

    March 23 | Baseball vs. St. Mary’s | 1-8:30pm | Baggett Stadium

    March 23 | Rhythms 2019 | 7-9pm | Spanos Theatre

                Additional dates: March 24

    March 24 | Women’s Tennis vs. CSUN | 11am-4pm | Tennis Courts

    March 24 | Baseball vs. St. Mary’s | 1-4pm | Baggett Stadium

    March 24 | MET Live in HD: La Fille du Regiment | 2-5pm | Performing Arts Center

    March 29 | Baseball vs. CSUN | 6-9pm | Baggett Stadium

    March 30 | MET Live in HD: Die Walkure | 9am-12pm | Performing Arts Center

    March 30 | Baseball vs. CSUN | 4-7pm | Baggett Stadium

    March 31 | Baseball vs. CSUN | 1-4pm | Baggett Stadium

    March 31 | Family Day at the PAC, The Amazing Max | 3-5pm | Performing Arts Center

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    Important Campus Phone Numbers

    Admissions | (805) 756-2311
    Career Services | (805) 756-2501
    Commencement Office | (805) 756-1600
    Counseling Services | (805) 756-2511
    Disability Resource Center | (805) 756-1395
    Financial Aid Office | (805) 756-2927
    Health Services | (805) 756-1211
    Mustang Success Center | (805) 756-6211
    Parent and Family Programs | (805) 756-6700
    Student Accounts | (805) 756-1428
    University Housing | (805) 756-1226
    University Police Department | (805) 756-2281

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