Emily Merten / Mustang News

After years of development, the Women’s and Gender Studies department celebrated the launch of the new Queer Studies minor Oct. 4.

The Women’s and Gender Studies Department held a launch party for the Queer Studies minor in the atrium of Robert E. Kennedy Library. Students and faculty filled the space, with many crowding on the floor where various contributors to the development of the minor spoke about the new program, available Fall 2017.

“Our goal with the queer studies minor is to  … provide students with hands-on experience serving as leaders in the creation, enactment, and evaluation of efforts to create more inclusive, just and equitable Cal Poly and world,” Women’s and Gender Studies Department Chair Jane Lehr said.

Lehr said this minor has been in development for years. The effort of the Women’s and Gender Studies faculty was necessary, but so was the dedication of students.

“It’s the Queer Studies Working Group, which was created by two students initially, that brings us here,” Lehr said. “It’s not about me; it’s not even about just the department. It’s about all of us.”

Lehr was speaking of political science seniors Matt Klepfer and Mick Bruckner. In 2015, Klepfer and Bruckner helped develop the Queer Studies Working Group, a group of students and faculty designed to work in partnership with the Women’s and Gender Studies department on the creation of the Queer Studies minor.

SLO Solidarity, a community organization seeking social, academic and ideological change in San Luis Obispo, proposed 41 demands to the President’s Office in Fall 2015 to make the campus more safe and equitable for underrepresented students. One of these demands was for the creation of a Queer Studies minor.

After two years of working with faculty and administration, making revisions and getting approval from the CLA Curriculum Committee, the minor is now available to students, requiring 24 units for completion.

“If we remember that this program came out of activism and student resistance imagining a better world, I believe this program can only propel more of that work in the future,” Klepfer said.

Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey said Student Affairs was honored to support the creation of the Queer Studies minor. Humphrey said this minor is needed to validate the multiple identities of students at Cal Poly.

“What is most exciting to me about the Queer Studies minor is that it matches head and heart,” Humphrey said. “I think that when we bring head and heart together in our work, powerful things can happen and we can bring about great change.”

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