PolyCultural Weekend (PCW) set a record this year as students from more than 30 campus cultural organizations came together to host the highest number of admitted underrepresented students to date.
For the weekend, 325 students were each placed with a host that acted as a mentor to give students a feel for Cal Poly life, both socially and academically. A total of 187 student volunteers helped run the events, in addition to the hosts.
History freshman and PCW volunteer Katherine Arboleda said that her own PCW experience is one of the reasons she decided to volunteer.
“It is such an important event for prospective students to show them resources on campus for them to be successful,” Arboleda said.
“It is such an important event for prospective students to show them resources on campus for them to be successful”
This year, coordinators improved the way students are paired with their mentors to make sure they are comfortable and had someone they can rely on throughout their time at Cal Poly.
“This year we made the pairing system a lot more well-rounded so [students] can pick if they want to be paired based on major, interest, organization and they can even select if they want to be paired with a more introverted or extraverted host to make them more comfortable,” political science senior and PCW coordinator Adena Chen said.
Along with strategically pairing students and hosts, coordinators participated in cultural competency trainings for the first time to ensure the hosts are able to creating an inclusive environment for incoming students and be prepared for their arrival.
“We just want to be as inclusive as possible and we realize these trainings are necessary because not everyone is educated in the best way to deal with different situations,” Chen said.
Art and design freshman Manasi Gopisetty hosted an incoming student during PCW and said the cultural competency trainings were able to help her create a more inclusive environment.
“I learned a lot about pronouns and ableist language and stuff that I was taught but it never really stuck,” Gopisetty said. “This weekend was kind of like a test to see if I could handle everything and I wanted to make sure everyone felt welcomed and belonged here.”
“This weekend was kind of like a test to see if I could handle everything and I wanted to make sure everyone felt welcomed and belonged here”
Chen said that with this event being a year after blackface, hosts and volunteers needed to be prepared to explain the incident.
“All of our hosts and volunteers are trained to have these discussions about it in a way that doesn’t discourage them from coming, but we do admit that it did happen,” Chen said. “We also acknowledge that so many communities have been affected by it and people are working really hard to really build a stronger community because of it.”
At the end of the weekend, Chen said she hopes that students are able to see the active cultural community and support network available for students.
“Even though it is a predominately white institution there is a very tight knit cultural community at Cal Poly that is willing to accept them if they choose to come to Cal Poly,” Chen said.
At the end of the weekend, Gopisetty found that many of the students in her group were leaning towards attending Cal Poly.
“When they came, I asked them if they were on the fence and many of them were choosing between a couple of schools,” Gopisetty said. “When I asked them at the end of the week, they were like ‘Yeah, I think Cal Poly is the one for me.’”