Cal Poly’s Empow!er — a club dedicated to uplifting students that are first-generation, low-income or have a disability — is building an inclusivity bridge this quarter to counter the free speech wall.
The free speech wall, a reoccurring installation by the Cal Poly Republican Club, has consistently featured instances of hate speech. Such instances included the drawing of a swastika back in May 2022, as previously reported by Mustang News.
The most recent wall was set up on Dexter Lawn in November 2022 and had a range of additions, including a “red/blue lives matter” flag and the phrases “my body my choice” and “Jesus is King!”
Empow!er plans on countering messages displayed by the Free Speech Wall by creating a space where students can write quotes or draw pictures that “empower their identity,” Empow!er president and chemistry sophomore Ariana Chavez said.
According to Empow!er’s Instagram, the inclusivity bridge will be used in the 2024 Polycultural weekend.
Chavez added that Empow!er plans to work with Student Diversity and Belonging to make the bridge a way for underrepresented students to claim their space on campus.
The club chose a wooden bridge as the medium for this project because of the symbolism behind it, according to Chavez.
“A bridge signifies a lot of connecting, like building up ties,” Chavez said.
According to Chavez, 10 people have signed up to help with the project. They hope to have the bridge finished by the end of this quarter.
The building of the bridge will take place at one of the volunteer’s houses over the next few weeks and the finished project will be stored in a storage facility, according to Chavez.
More information about the project and how to get involved is available on Empow!er’s Instagram, @calpolyempow_er.