Social sciences junior Gemma Dallas speaks to campus community members at the Student Diversity and Belonging Fall Welcome event. Credit: Jeremy Garza | Mustang News

Student Diversity and Belonging (SDAB) groups kicked off the school year with their annual fall welcome event, where all of Cal Poly’s diversity centers come together and introduce their respective missions on campus to the student body. 

“We try to do welcome events for everybody at the beginning of every year, so that people can get accustomed with the centers, learn who we are and learn where we are,” social sciences senior Elena Scarr said. 

Scarr is one of the student assistants for the Gender Equity Center (GEC) that works year-round to create spaces so students can feel included and involved. 

LGBTQ+ Campus Life, Men and Masculinities, Black Academic Excellence Center, Dream Center, Multicultural Center, Native American and Indiginous Cultural Center and Latinx Initiatives were also present at the welcome event. 

“I work for the Men and Masculinity Center,” biology senior Brian Luu said. “We hope to create a safe place for anyone of any gender identity, race or ethnicity to explore the culture of masculinity – whether that be their own journey to their own masculinity or just around them.”

Scarr and other students involved in SDAB organizations are especially set on creating a place for people who are different from the average Cal Poly student. 

“One of the things that me and the previous coordinator were talking about was how we serve Cal Poly,” Scarr said. “Because Cal Poly is such a white dominant school – and a lot of the issues that we focus on are a lot more nuanced when things like class are added – we really wanted to focus on students who fall through the cracks.”

If a student is feeling lost or wanting to be a part of a community of like minded students, these student assistants suggest popping into a center. 

“Coming into the center whenever is a great way to just start meeting us,” social sciences junior Gemma Dallas said. “Start talking to us about what we’re doing, following us on Instagram, seeing our events and coming to the events. It takes a team to build a mountain.”

There are several ways to get involved in SDAB campus events. Holiday celebrations and other social gatherings are set up by student assistants and all are welcome to attend. An online event calendar can be viewed at https://culture.calpoly.edu/Calendar

Scarr does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to event planning. Along with her team, they create Pal-entine’s, which is to celebrate friendship, and a lot of Halloween events. She is also the director of Original Womxn’s Narratives (OWN), which highlights people’s gender experiences on campus. More information on OWN can be found at https://gec.calpoly.edu/OWN

“I want to build a community and make sure that we continue making Cal Poly a safe space for ethnic minorities,” Dallas said. “It is really easy to feel isolated and the center is meant to make sure that students feel safer and less isolated and find their community.”