Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong is a vocal supporter of The Mustang Way, which was criticized recently in a San Luis Obispo Tribune column.
While Cal Poly’s students are no strangers to the Mustang Way, a semi-official set of student guidelines for good behavior, a local columnist took issue with it in a recent article published in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
In a column published Saturday, Tribune editor Joe Tarica criticized the Mustang Way, which he called a “trite and overused sports cliché,” that threatens to overshadow Cal Poly’s traditional motto: “Learn By Doing.”
The article also appeared in Sunday’s Tribune.
The Mustang Way, he wrote, “is a set of didactic morals that can be trotted out for just about any occasion, one that not only takes precedence over the university’s traditional motto but that has actually assimilated ‘Learn by Doing’ under its auspices.
“Indeed, the first of the five tenets declares, ‘We are focused on excellence: Learn by Doing is the foundation of our engaged pursuit of knowledge and scholarly achievement.’”
When asked about the column, Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News that several administrators, including University President Jeffrey Armstrong — who Tarica singled out specifically as overusing The Mustang Way — had seen it and believes it, “misses the mark.”
Cal Poly, Lazier wrote, is of the opinion “that students and alumni who are aware of the development and details (of The Mustang Way) think Joe’s take is off base. Learn by Doing has been, is and will remain the heart of the Cal Poly education.”
The Mustang Way rose to university-wide prominence when former Associated Students, Inc. President Katie Morrow championed it early in her 2012-13 term. Formerly a staple in Cal Poly Athletics, Morrow thought it could serve as a set of expectations for students to live up to.
Since then, a campus road has been renamed “Mustang Way,” and a giant plaque is hung in the Recreation Center displaying its tenants: pride, responsibility and character.
Administrators have often referenced the motto since it expanded from athletics to the general campus, most recently in a letter to students about the death of wine and viticulture senior Will Rogers. They’re quick to note it’s not an official student code of conduct, but instead a way Cal Poly encourages its students to act.
And in response to Tarica’s column, Lazier wrote The Mustang Way’s ideals don’t compete with Lean By Doing.
“(We) will not consider easing up on the messaging around either concept,” he wrote.