Cal Poly’s Fall 2017 incoming class is the most ethnically diverse in more than 20 years, according to university spokesperson Matt Lazier.
Breakdowns show the class includes more than 1,136 students classified as underrepresented minorities, an increase from approximately 754 students last year.
Despite the university’s overall diversity improving in the last five years, the size of some minority groups on campus has remained stagnant or decreased from year to year. Cal Poly still stands as the least diverse campus among all California State Universities.
Cal Poly has tried to increase diversity among students by facilitating Poly Cultural Weekend (PCW). PCW is intended to showcase diversity and resources at Cal Poly to potential incoming minority students. During this weekend, cultural organizations on campus come together to give high school seniors and transfer students a taste of what Cal Poly has to offer. PCW was founded in 2004 when minorities accounted for only 26.3 percent of the student population at Cal Poly. As of 2016, minorities account for 36.42 percent of the student population.
PCW 2017 took place from April 21 to 23 and consisted of a series of activities for students and workshops for parents. Activities scheduled for students included campus and housing tours, tours of downtown, a club breakout session, performances and University Union Power Hour. Prospective students were housed with current members of cultural organizations to ensure an authentic Cal Poly experience. According to the PCW website, current students were paired with prospective students based on similar interests and characterstics including major and ethnicity. More than 20 student PolyCultural Organizations helped to make this weekend possible.
Students speak out about PCW
Cultural organizations on campus aide hundreds of students in making genuine connections with fellow Mustangs each year, creating a sense of community. Through PCW, these cultural organizations have the opportunity to enhance their visibility on campus. Sociology sophomore Frank Gaspar volunteered for PCW through Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) and Hip-Hop Choreography Club.
“The goal is to show them that they do have a place here on campus and convey that although there is a lack of diversity and lack of representation for a lot of students of color here, the communities that we do form here are really strong,” Gaspar said.
Animal science sophomore and PCW host Tim Guerzon is making it his personal mission to promote recognition of diversity at Cal Poly. Guerzon found a sense of home in the Pilipino Cultural Exchange Club (PCE) and hopes other students will find a sense of home in cultural organizations as well.
“There’s all these clubs that make them feel more at home,” Guerzon said. “That’s the ultimate goal — to have a foundation of either their culture or people that remind them of home so that they have a stable foundation when they start at Cal Poly.”
English sophomore Alex Tran expressed how essential facilitating events like PCW at Cal Poly is given Cal Poly’s demographics.
“Coming here it’s kind of a culture shock because it’s hard to find people that relate to you, that are similar to you and that you can connect with and so these events will kind of reassure you that there is a community where you can find comfort and similarities,” Hip-Hop Choreography Club
host Tran said.