Kayla Stuart, Coby Chuang | Mustang News Credit: Kayla Stuart, Coby Chuang, Marta Lukomska | Mustang News

Mustang News worked to ensure that Cal Poly and its surrounding community were well-informed, up to date and still entertained during 2021. From breaking news stories to student spotlights to opinion columns, we provided a vast array of content for our readers.

Here are the top 10 stories that you enjoyed during this past year, ranked by total page views.

1.    Cal Poly’s modern-day segregation by Cassandra Garcia

Imagine living in a dorm where maintenance problems are a constant norm and there is no community center to meet other students. But hey, you’re also sharing a bathroom with 11 other people despite it only having two showers, two toilet stalls and two sinks. On top of it all, you didn’t choose which dorm you were placed in since your academic program is what designated you to live there.

This is the current problem faced by residents in the North Mountain Residence Halls at Cal Poly.

Cal Poly uses Residential Living Communities (RLCs) to designate first and sometimes even second-year students to a dorm. Most of the time, RLC’s are assigned to residence halls based off of the number of students in the RLC. So if a RLC is large, they will be placed in larger halls with more dorms.

When students start their housing application in their Cal Poly housing portal, they can choose which RLC they prefer to be a part of. However, this isn’t the case for students accepted into Cal Poly Scholars, Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) or are a part of the TRIO program.

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2.    Cal Poly is the only predominantly white CSU. Here’s why by Catherine Allen

It wasn’t until after their high school’s sports signing day that civil engineering junior and track athlete Kaila Bishop found out they would be one of 23 Black students enrolled in Cal Poly’s class of 2022. The class consisted of 4,398 freshmen total.

“I was a little scared,” Bishop said. “But not much, because I actually grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, and although I never fully ‘fit in’ I definitely got used to it.”

Though Bishop said they accept there will always be gaps, whether it be economic, cultural or otherwise, exploring STEM as “the only Black student in the room” was still a struggle. 

“I still feel kinda left out in a way,” Bishop said.

Three years since Bishop joined Cal Poly, the university remains the only predominantly white public university in California. 

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3.    Cal Poly plans to switch to semesters by Catherine Allen

On Saturday, CBS aired a revised version of their “48 Hours” episode, “The Disappearance of Kristin Smart,” to incorporate recent developments in the case — including the arrest of Paul Flores, the whereabouts of Smart’s body and Flores’ history of sexual assault.

It also included footage from press conferences held by the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices in April announcing the arrest and charges of Paul and Ruben Flores’, as well as an interview from the Smart family’s private lawyer, Jim Murphy.

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4.    CBS’ “48 Hours” reports new developments in Kristin Smart case by Madison Bellah

Cal Poly is set to be the final California State University campus to switch to semesters, despite years of pushback from the campus community.

Calling it an “eventual transition,” University Spokesperson Cynthia Lambert said Cal Poly is still finalizing plans with the CSU and has yet to make an official announcement. 

President Jeffrey Armstrong told the Academic Senate the semester system would be implemented no sooner than the 2025-2026 school year.

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5.    A recent study found the companies most Cal Poly graduates end up working for by Jack Clark

A recent study conducted by GradReports revealed the companies that tend to hire graduates from California colleges. The report ranked Cal Poly seventh in GradReport’s list of top 10 colleges. This list was ranked using a salary score that is calculated using federal earnings data from the U.S. Department of Education. 

“We are a polytechnic institution and so technology companies will be attracted to us whether you’re a liberal arts major, a CAFES major, and technology is integrated into all six colleges,” Executive Director for Career Services Eileen Buecher said. 

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6.    Crystals, herbs and setting intentions: Cal Poly witchcraft explained by Alexis Bowlby

For many, the word “witch” brings to mind images of green women with large noses, covered in warts and tall pointy hats. What most people don’t know, however, is those stereotypes are largely rooted in anti-semitism and misogyny, which doesn’t accurately represent the true history of witchcraft.

Four Cal Poly witches spoke about their experiences and relationships with the practice.

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7.    WOW should include Kristin Smart to educate students and honor her legacy by Tessa Hughes

The funny thing was I didn’t even know the name Kristin Smart until I was a sophomore at Cal Poly, which was right around the time the “Your Own Backyard” podcast was starting to release episodes. The podcast reinvigorated the case; however, a student going missing, most likely at the hands of another student is something I feel like should’ve been more common knowledge amongst new students, especially female students. 

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8.    Watch Out For Your Weed by Helyn Oshrin

With rapidly changing legalization laws across the country, cannabis has become more popular and more accessible than ever before, but there are still people who are buying their weed the old-fashioned way. Black market weed, however, can contain contaminants like fentanyl, because they don’t have to go through a rigorous testing process. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have been working to combat the illegal market of synthetic marijuana products, but despite best efforts different entities continue to produce and distribute these products, according to a statement from the FDA.

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9.    In-person classes switch to hybrid format last minute, leaving students disappointed by Sierra Parr

After over a year and a half of online instruction, Cal Poly students and faculty have become familiar with asynchronous coursework, scheduled Zoom lectures and everything in between.

But with approximately 87% of all classes being held in-person for the fall quarter in at least four different modalities of instruction, the return to in-person classes has proven to be anything but a return to normalcy.

After the first week of in-person instruction, many students are finding their classes to be meeting face to face less than they expected.

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10.    Day eight: Kristin Smart hearing updates by Ava Kershner

The Kristin Smart case preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores continued last Thursday August 12 with testimonies from two parties. Timothy Davis took the stand first and recalled the evening of the Crandall Way party. Then, Jennifer Hudson testified about a time she was with Paul and he confessed to her.

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Here’s to another year of providing the news to you

Comment below your favorite story from Mustang News this past year that did not make the list!

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