Students, faculty, staff and administration crowded around tents on Dexter Lawn Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon to raise awareness and support for undocumented residents. Cal Poly’s Undocumented Student Working Group hosted the event.
The gathering stood for National Educators Coming Out Day, a day declared by the United We Dream Educational Empowerment Program — a national organization that dedicates itself to supporting immigrant youth and families.
“They [undocumented students] have a place at Cal Poly and we want to help them graduate like any other student,” Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey said.
As students gathered, they collected and signed flyers to show support. Then they all joined in a group photo.
Casey McCullough is a California State University (CSU) Americorps VISTA volunteer who helped host the Undocumented Student Working Group’s gathering.
“There’s a lot of people here,” McCullough said. “I’m very happy with the turnout.”
Nury Baliterrez is a Cal Poly alumna and current staff member for the Undocumented Student Working Group. She said that when she was a student less than a decade ago, the subject of undocumented students was unheard of.
“To be open minded, respectful and being inclusive of students — who they are, how they identify,” Baltierrez said. “This is a huge event.”
One curious student who stumbled across the scene was business administration freshman Natasha Mahmud.
“It’s very cool,” Mahmud said. “I think it’s super important for people to come together right now.”
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong also appeared at the event. He and Humphrey concluded the event with their support and an announcement by Humphrey to open a DREAM Center in early 2017. The center will be a space for community between undocumented students.
Thursday’s gathering leads up to another United We Dream event scheduled for Nov. 12.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated President Jeffrey Armstrong declared plans to open a DREAM Center in early 2017. It has been corrected to say Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey made the announcement.