Despite the Cal Poly College Republicans’ efforts to encourage positive comments on this year’s Free Speech Wall, offensive speech still tainted the wooden boards.
The wall was crowded with uplifting messages, leaving little room for offensive speech to be written. But, additional boards were nailed to the wall.
In response, Cal Poly Queer Student Union (QSU) and Triota held a gathering last Friday evening for those targeted by the offensive comments.
“QSU and Triota decided to host this because folks who are affected by this language and this object on campus, as well as their allies, really need to be provided with a space to gather together and support each other,” QSU President and political science junior Matt Klepfer said.
On the other hand, city and regional planning junior Hunter Kelly asserted the gathering would fuel the writers of the hateful comments.
“For some people it’s a high, that’s like what they live for. I’m just of the opinion that some people wrote stuff on [the Free Speech Wall] to, more or less, get the reaction out of you guys, and get a good chuckle out of it,” Kelly said.
A similar outcome occurred last winter when the Free Speech Wall was erected on Dexter Lawn and hateful messages were inscribed. SLO Solidarity formed soon after, and made strides to combat the inequities that minority groups face.
SLO Solidarity led protests against discrimination and submitted a list of demands for fair treatment of all students to Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong.
SLO Solidarity is now inactive due to graduating seniors and the overlap between members and officers of QSU and Triota.
“If you look at the wall as an object that shows campus climate, you can see that maybe campus climate has not changed at all in the last year and maybe all of the work that students, staff and faculty have done to try and push that change has not been incredibly effective,” Klepfer said.