Noah Krigel is a sociology senior and member of the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors. The views expressed in this letter to the editor do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News or ASI.
On Wednesday, May 1, the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors passed bill #19-01, “ASI Bylaws Amendment – Freedom of Speech and Anti-Discrimination.” The following day, a student published a letter to the editor regarding a potential impact of this bill, suggesting it was an anti-Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) bill. In response to the article, many individuals in the Cal Poly community expressed outrage at the seeming political invasion of an anti-discrimination bill. As an ASI board member and co-author of the bill, I believe it is important to clarify this amendment and provide deeper insight.
This is an all encompassing anti-discrimination bill. It is not an anti-BDS bill, nor is it a pro-Zionist endorsement (though I proudly identify as Zionist and do not support the BDS movement).
As a queer Jew, I felt it was important that our ASI support underrepresented communities. In my four years here, I have seen increasing hostility toward the LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities. After the Blackface incidents last year and the Drylongso Collective’s resulting demands to exclude Zionist organizations, I wanted to produce legislation that would protect not only my fellow Jewish students, but students from all underrepresented groups. And this is what the bill does.
With this amendment, Cal Poly ASI joined 10 other CSU ASIs who have already passed similar anti-discrimination clauses (Bakersfield, Chico, East Bay, Pomona, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and San Marcos). The language in our bill was designed not only to mirror wording found in these other CSU ASI bylaws, but also to include anti-discriminatory clauses used in the Cal Poly Corporation, CSU-system, California government, and Federal government. The bill was vetted by a CSU lawyer, two internal ASI full-time employees, and the Internal Review Committee and received unanimous approval from the Board.
We wanted to create a fully-inclusive amendment that would help institutionalize diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives on our campus. As a result of this work, I am proud that our Cal Poly ASI is now governed by the most comprehensive anti-discrimination clause in the CSU system.
The bill includes an exhaustive list of protections that far exceeds the federal definition for hate crimes:
“Neither the board nor any body or organization under its jurisdiction shall adopt any policy which unlawfully abridges the freedom of speech. Further, the aforementioned organizations shall not practice or sanction any unlawful discriminatory practice related to: veteran status, uniformed service member status, race, color, religion, gender identity, gender expression, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy (including childbirth, lactation, or related medical conditions), age, national origin or ancestry, immigration status, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, or genetic information (including testing and characteristics).”
In short, the bill protects all Cal Poly community members regardless of who they are.
I view this bill as a stepping stone to bring greater diversity, equity, and inclusion into ASI and onto our campus. We must continue building coalitions and empowering positive change. We must continue pushing for reform so all students feel safe, heard, and seen.