Students and San Luis Obispo community members lined up on Thursday morning to see the panel discussion with Michael Pollan at the Performing Arts Center (PAC).
David Wehner, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Resources, said 1,400 people attended the event and the PAC was filled to capacity. A pavilion, with a 200-person capacity, had been set up out side for overflow and that was filled as well. Nearly 400 viewers also watched a live stream of the event on the Mustang Daily Web site.
“I wanted to see where he comes from,” Wehner said.
Wehner spoke before the panel discussion began and asked all the farmers in the audience to stand, about a quarter of the people in the audience stood.
The discussion started out with questions generated by the moderator Scott J. Vernon, a professor of agriculture education at Cal Poly, then moved on to a couple of audience-generated questions written on index cards.
Wehner said he has heard mostly positive feedback, except people’s dismay regarding the event’s format change.
There were official looking programs that highlighted the controversy between Harris Ranch and President Warren Baker. The programs said they were made by a coalition of concerned students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members.
Wehner said Baker’s office is forming a response to the flyer,which accused him of censoring the event and violating Cal Poly’s standards of academic freedom. The pamphlet sites parts of the Resolution on Academic Freedom, which Baker signed in June 2009.