SLO Solidarity has responded to the university’s postponement of an action plan regarding diversity on campus.
During the Nov. 18 open forum, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong announced that there would be a plan released by the end of fall quarter. However, as stated in a campuswide email sent Dec. 11, the university needed more time.
“In short, diversity and inclusion are critical to our university, and our timeline will be determined by getting it right,” Armstrong wrote in the email.
In a press release, leaders of SLO Solidarity addressed the postponement and urged the administration to reconsider its approach.
The full release:
“In light of President Armstrong’s email pertaining the postponement of an action plan in response to Fall 2015 campus protests, demands and pleas for additional campus inclusivity, SLO Solidarity’s leadership is incredibly frustrated with the lack of transparency, lack of student involvement in decision making and the significant demonstration of a lack in practical knowledge in managing diversity and inclusivity.
We heard President Armstrong loud and clear — there is no place for hate at Cal Poly. We also clearly remember the countless conversations, forums and listening sessions that have been hosted by the administration, specifically President Armstrong, where we have passionately and knowledgeably expressed the need for additional specific and intentional action on their part to facilitate a more equitable, accessible and just campus climate. If that was not made clear by the three separate faculty/staff/student protests, the dozens of letters to the editor, the calls for action from department and college heads, administrative leaders and many community leaders and members — we are unsure of what will make that clear.
We are in the midst of an extraordinary moment in higher education, one comparable to the revolutionary student protests of the 1960s and ’70s that brought about what is considered today to be essential, curriculum, staff and faculty from underrepresented groups, and many of the crucial democratic processes that exist to enable social change indefinitely on our campuses. These students, who were demanding very similar changes that we are asking for today were met with violence, contradiction, bigotry and ignorance. What did these students do? They passionately spoke out. Because of their brilliance, persistence and resilience, they succeeded in many of their goals — but all were not met.
Today, we carry on their legacy and are informed and inspired by their efforts. In the past 40 years, we have seen the rise of bigotry, and a reemergence — or perhaps a persistence — of discriminatory practices and policies at all levels of society. Institutional, organizational and interpersonal manifestations of these discriminatory policies and practices are listed in our demands. What we are requesting, is a specific response to that list. What can you do, specifically, to address the disparities that we have identified for you? We were promised this, and we have been strung along ever since.
We ask the administration to reconsider their approach in addressing our cause and our movement. Realize that we hold the key, and the knowledge, to helping facilitate a more just, safe and inclusive campus for students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, undocumented students and all underrepresented or marginalized groups at Cal Poly. In addition, we stand in SOLIDARITY with faculty, staff and administrator allies who have risked their jobs to speak out on our behalf. We encourage and promise to support all members of the Cal Poly community who wish to speak out against prejudice, bias, ignorance and hate at all levels of this university.
We refuse to be kept out of the university leadership’s conversation. In fact, we ask to be at the center of it. Working as a parallel force would be more effective than being notified after their discussions. A similar phenomenon of people in power making decisions for marginalized groups is seen globally, by keeping those groups at bay and assuming that they know what’s best for them. We are a campus community and if decisions are going to be made for this community, specifically the underrepresented community, then we should be involved, and centered, in the decision-making process.
Do not forget the struggle, hard work, and expertise students exerted in Fall 2015 in order to push this campus forward — because we will not stop, we never have. We’ve only just begun.”
At the time of publication, the release had been signed by SLO Solidarity leaders Mario Espinoza, Matt Klepfer, Kristin Michelle Lee, Mick Bruckner, Mehra Gharibian and Rocío Gonzalez. Due to winter break, not all leaders could be reached. We will update this post as more signatures are received.