Roughly 35 students from clubs and organizations across campus gathered in front of Administration (building 1) May 16 to rally behind demands aimed at Cal Poly administration.
The group supports providing an additional $141,000 for the Black Academic Excellence Center, the Dream Center, the MultiCultural Center, the Gender Equity Center, the Pride Center, the Ethnic Studies Department and the Woman and Gender Studies Department. They are also campaigning to provide at least two more full-time advocates for Safer.
“All of those are places marginalized students rely on, and they’re some of the only places we feel safe here,” electrical engineering senior and Students for Quality Education (SQE) intern Alejandro Bupara said. “Also, more Safer advocates would make a difference in people’s lives immediately.”
The two demands from this rally have roots in the list of demands put forth in Spring 2018 by the Drylongso Collective, a group of students organizations that joined together after the blackface incident, according to Bupara.
The demands released in 2018 were more comprehensive, but this year, Bupara said, SQE is only focusing on their two highest priority demands.
“It’s going to be very uncomfortable for [administration] to keep denying us,” Bupara said.
University spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News that the university has taken steps to increase resources for diversity and inclusivity programs. In addition, Cal Poly recently hired one Safer advocate, increased Title IX funding and increased education on prevention in New Student Orientation Programs.
The $141,000 demanded by SQE is intended to be similar to the total amount of money the university spent on security when alt-right guest speaker Milo Yiannopoulos visited campus in 2017 and 2018, according to Bupara. In 2018, Yiannopoulos security cost Cal Poly and the California State University (CSU) system an estimated total of $86,200. In 2017, the UPD spent nearly $16,000.
Their demand amounts to approximately 0.4 percent of Cal Poly’s total operating budget for 2018-19, not including the cost of hiring two Safer advocates.
Lazier said while the university budget takes several different priorities into consideration, “university leaders are listening” and are open to a constructive dialogue on how to improve the university.
Students of SQE said they will continue to rally in solidarity until their demands are met.
“We will continue to lobby [for the demands] and to put pressure on [administration],” Bupara said. “We will ask the university to commit to funding our centers and to providing the additional full-time advocate for Safer … if they don’t respond, we will continue to pressure into the fall as well.”
SQE was formed in 2007 by students in the California State University (CSU) system seeking to bring “educational justice” by emphasizing the concerns of marginalized students.
The rally was organized in partnership with English senior Amelia Meyerhoff, whose senior project, “The Clapback,” investigated the extent of sexual assault and violence on Cal Poly campus.