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On Nov. 3, 2015, students from the Queer Student Union, Triota, the Comparative Ethnic Studies Student Association and the Black Student Union reminded the campus and the Chancellor that many students, unfortunately, do not feel included in our campus community. We held signs and textbooks with duct tape over our mouths because we felt our voices had been silenced to the point where we had no other way to communicate. We explained how we felt isolated, forgotten and even regretful of our choice coming to Cal Poly. Together, we said it is time for change, to which Chancellor White responded that he “expects this great campus to take (our problems) to heart and start doing something about it.”
Further highlighted by ongoing student activism on campus, it seems that students need change. Is our curriculum ready to meet students’ needs?
The Cal Poly Queer Student Union expresses its full support for a minor in Queer Studies. Not only do we support it, but we have spent hours alongside outstanding staff and faculty in the Queer Studies Working Group making our shared goal for a better Cal Poly a reality. This curricular proposal is something beautiful; something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. It isn’t often that passionate students, staff and faculty join forces striving for real change. More than that, the proposals roots in interdisciplinary academic inquiry will foster new and important student and faculty relationships that will lead to robust and structural queer inclusivity on campus. Its approval will show the Queer Student Union, Cal Poly, the California State University and the rest of higher education that students, staff and faculty can together make real and lasting change for the better.
Coming at a time of student activism unlike anything ever seen before at Cal Poly, a minor in Queer Studies would show students that Cal Poly is taking active steps to make the campus more inclusive to queer-identified individuals. The current invisibility of queer identities within the Cal Poly curriculum has augmented the creation of a campus climate that is unwelcoming toward those within the queer community. Our identities and problems are excluded, invalidated and deemed nonexistent by way of this invisibility in the curriculum. While retention rates for queer identified individuals are not recorded, we know many individuals who have left Cal Poly for other institutions that actually include the queer community within their curriculum. These other institutions include the 13 other CSU campuses that include “queer” or “sexuality” in their program titles.
President Armstrong’s Vision 2022 calls for an “innovative, constantly improving curriculum that will continue to attract the brightest faculty, staff and students” and for “interdisciplinary experiences that prepare [students] for success in a global economy.” Together, they would create an “enriching, inclusive environment where every student, faculty and staff member is valued.” These hopes and goals echo within Cal Poly’s mission statements and in the policies on diversity and inclusivity publicly available on the university’s website. Yet, for many who live the experience as Cal Poly students, those hopes and goals remain unfulfilled. It’s time that we live up to them.
A minor in Queer Studies at a leading Polytechnic University makes sense. In a world so focused on interpersonal interaction, technical progress and administrative responsibility, understanding the vast array of perspectives held under the queer umbrella is imperative. The Queer Student Union believes this minor is necessary for the success and retention of queer-identified students, and that continued delay in the creation of queer-centered curriculum will deeply, negatively, affect queer students’ lives. Now is the time to include queer voices in our curriculum.
Matt Klepfer, President
Mick Bruckner, Vice President of Activism and Advocacy
Erica Hudson, Vice President of Outreach
Rotem Drori, Vice President of Social Programming
Nick Russell, Treasurer
Amber Williams, Secretary
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