Offices were closed and classes canceled Nov. 11 in honor of the men and women who have served in the armed forces. For many Cal Poly students, Veterans Day was a chance to sleep in or catch up on homework, but for some, it was a reminder of their service.
More than 100 veterans attend Cal Poly, but for the most part, these students are invisible, said veteran and forestry senior Nick Kunz.
“There’s a few instructors I know that have talked about (veterans), but generally that’s not something that comes up in the course of a class,” Kunz said. “Obviously for people who are going to school, that’s not in their mindset.”
Veterans attending Cal Poly do have a contact in administration to serve their needs, but there is currently no veterans’ club or organization, like at other California State University (CSU) campuses, such as CSU Monterey Bay or Sacramento State, Kunz said.
A group catering to veterans would help draw more to the school, and help integrate them better, Kunz said.
“The main thing is a way to meet people in a similar situation, just like any other campus group,” Kunz said. “It just doesn’t seem like there’s much interest in doing these sorts of things.”
Though there is no veterans’ club on campus, Cal Poly is still aware of the veteran students, Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) president Kiyana Tabrizi said.
Tabrizi spent Veterans Day in a meeting with Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong and other administration officials. Before the meeting began, everyone took a moment to honor veteran students, faculty and staff, Tabrizi said.
“It was really sweet,” she said. “We had a moment of silence.”
Then, the veterans present had a chance to speak.
Though ASI doesn’t have a club for veterans, the organization does work to promote veterans’ interests, Tabrizi said.
“We work on various committees to make sure our campus is inclusive to veterans,” Tabrizi said.
ASI is grateful for the veterans on campus and works to support them, Tabrizi said, but no one has approached ASI about forming a veterans group yet.
Currently, veterans on campus remain relatively unnoticed, agricultural education senior Christine Woodman said.
“I know there definitely are veterans on campus,” Woodman said, but unless someone knows a veteran personally, and the topic comes up, most students aren’t aware of it. Woodman said she is only aware of the veterans because she used to work with a veteran student at El Corral bookstore.
For Veterans Day, Woodman did homework and tried to stay out of the rain, but she said
even if students couldn’t go to a ceremony, they should reflect on what it means to be a veteran.
“Thank a veteran,” Woodman said.
The other reason veteran students aren’t visible is because most students picture older generations as veterans, Woodman said.
“The first image that pops into my head is my grandpa or grandma, older people,” Woodman said.
Older generations also tend to be more interested in veterans’ issues, according to veteran Don Mueller, who volunteers as a docent at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Museum.
Mueller volunteered at the museum’s Veterans Day booth at last Thursday’s Farmers’ Market, downtown. Most of the people who stopped at the booth were older, Mueller said.
“There were college students (at Farmers’ Market), but they didn’t seem to be interested in the displays or information that we had,” Mueller said.
The cause for the difference between generations is that the popularity for wars has disappeared, Mueller said. World War II was the last war that had popular support, and since the Korean War and Vietnam War, antiwar movements have broken down that support, he said.
The one thing that Mueller said he learned from his own service during the Cold War, though, is that veterans need support and gratitude.
“If I had to sum my experience up, it’s made me more aware of veterans who came before me,” Mueller said. “It’s the guys who have had their life on the line in the military, the veterans. You just don’t want your youth or anybody to forget them.”