The Cal Poly Pride Center and Associated Students Inc. (ASI) painted a rainbow crosswalk on Mustang Way to recognize the LGBTQ+ community.
“This is symbolizing a path to progress for where we are heading as a campus. Being more inclusive. Being more accessible. And being more equitable,” Lead Coordinator for Campus LGBTQ+ Initiatives Samuel Byrd said.
Byrd brought this idea to the table at the beginning of winter quarter to show allyship and create a space for the LGBTQ+ community. He said he was inspired by seeing Pride crosswalks in other cities and universities.
The Pride Center was planning to unveil this project in April when the campus celebrates Pride, but because of COVID-19 the Pride Center moved all of it’s events to May. Currently this project is a two-year pilot program and will stay painted at the beginning of Mustang Way for two years.
Not all students have had the best four to five years at Cal Poly, especially in the LGBTQ+ community, Byrd said. Most of the experiences that Byrd heard from their alumni and students is that they don’t really want anything to do with Cal Poly after graduation.
“They had a lot of negative experiences or felt invisible on campus,” Byrd said, “I think with the plan we are unfolding, we will get to the place where LGBTQ+ in particular and our allied students really will find that Cal Poly is a great place to be. They really valued the education and sense of community.”
Byrd’s plan incorporates a wide variety of missions. Byrd wrote in an email that his plan includes:
- Greater and more purposeful integration with the Gala Pride & Diversity Center.
- Building strong coalitions of campus and community affiliated organizations.
- Dedicate time and resources to prospective student outreach.
- Expand Pride Residential Learning Communities within University Housing
- Make greater advancements in Gender Affirming Care with Campus Health & Wellbeing.
- Create new queer spaces and more leadership opportunities for LGBTQ+ students on campus.
This task will require the Cal Poly community to welcome this pathway set forth by the Pride Center in order to create positive experiences and strong support for the LGBTQ+ communities.
For ASI President Mark Borges, this project is about showing that there is a community on campus going through the same struggles for acceptance, and said he hopes that this project will help show those struggling right now that there is a supportive community at Cal Poly.
“I was someone that really struggled with their mental health during this whole process, so if someone who is going through a similar experience and can just see that crosswalk or maybe some other initiative by the Pride Center to create a more inclusive campus then that to me is so important,” Borges said.
Borges said that all Pride events have been cancelled during the shelter-in-place order, so it is important to find other unique ways to celebrate the community
“I think a big bummer is the cancelation of Pride events,” Borges said. “I think just talking about how we can be unique in celebrating this community is so important — so it might be a crosswalk or it might be some other way to find community amidst events being cancelled.”