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Cal Poly students lay out demands asking university to be more inclusive

Posted at 6:58 PM, Feb 26, 2019

Cal Poly students are demanding action from the university once again, saying the administration doesn’t do enough to secure equal rights for students of all backgrounds.

The Cal Poly Students for Quality Education (SQE) and NAACP held a Town Hall meeting on Tuesday to advocate their list of demands for Cal Poly to invest in meaningful support of marginalized students, faculty, and staff.

“There are so many things pushing us out of this university,” said Alejandro Bupara, an electrical engineering student at Cal Poly. “Once we get here we can’t afford to eat, we can’t afford rent. The university doesn’t support our knowledge production. There’s funding for Milo (Yianoppolous), but not for the ethnic studies or women’s studies departments.”

Organizers like Bupara say campus administrators aren’t doing enough to recruit and keep students and faculty from different backgrounds.

“0.3 percent of black students were accepted into the university, 50 to 60 percent of the black staff left in the last three to four years. The campus environment for people of color is corrosive,”  said Stephen Vine, NAACP San Luis Obispo Chapter President.

Among the demands, students are asking the university to hire a counselor with expertise in supporting queer, transgender, black, and indigenous students’ mental health. They want Cal Poly to hire new professors for an Ethnic Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and they want a legal fund established to aid sexual abuse survivors in seeking justice.

Below is a copy of student demands.

“If there’s no change, you’ll definitely see us again. We will definitely be escalating until we get something. We’re not going to let administration forget us,” Bupara added.

Cal Poly’s Communications Department sent the following statement:

“The university is constantly seeking to improve upon the education and experience at Cal Poly, and university administration is always open to input and constructive dialogue with any campus community members.

Senior administration is engaging with and reaching out to the groups involved in today’s event to discuss the specific changes they would like to see. Some of their demands call for changes the administration cannot make unilaterally. For example, faculty determine curricular changes, not administrators. Cal Poly follows shared governance principles, and faculty, students and others are involved in decision-making that broadly impacts the university. Cal Poly administration is committed to shared governance; it is essential and critical to involve shared governance groups – groups elected by their peers – Academic Senate and ASI.  The university also engages its bargaining units and Cal Poly’s Advisory Council composed of faculty.

That being said, the university has many initiatives in place or planned for the immediate or near future that address many of the very issues students raised today. While the path to these shared objectives may differ, our priorities are largely aligned, and the university is moving forward on many different fronts. A constructive back-and-forth exchange can shed light on these specifics for both sides.”