Nearly 600 people have signed a petition asking the Cal Poly Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to drop investigations launched against students who held a brief anti-war demonstration during the Cal Poly Career Fair in April.
Six students with the SLO Peace Coalition held a banner proclaiming “Divest from War, Stop the War Machine,” parallel to the Raytheon career fair booth. In protest of Cal Poly programs being funded in part by defense contractors, students chanted: “I am proud to be a student, but we see right through your lies. You’re killing all across the world for that war money and we proudly rise up until you put your weapons down.”
The entire demonstration lasted around 15 minutes, during which the group distributed flyers that said Cal Poly’s education is “sponsored by companies making a killing off of killing.”
The University Police Department (UPD) and Career Services never asked the group to leave or end their demonstration. Close to two weeks later, a member of SLO Peace Coalition received an email from the Cal Poly Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities stating that the students had violated the University’s Student Code of Conduct for holding an unpermitted sign as well as willfully and substantially disrupting university business.
“There have not been any definitive sanctions put forth yet. The only rumored one on has been a possible not walking at graduation for a graduating senior,” demonstrator and political science junior Dominic Scialabba said.
University spokesperson Matt Lazier said Cal Poly supports free speech rights, but the event was not open to the general public and disruptive protests could face disciplinary action.
“To ensure that the exercise of the right of free expression does not interfere with university functions, the university maintains and enforces campus regulations regarding the time, place and manner of the exercise of free expression by individuals and groups,” Lazier said.
SLO Peace Coalition started the petition to encourage the university to stop its investigation. The petition’s description says it’s astonishing that Cal Poly would devote resources towards investigating the group’s demonstration in light of recent events of blackface on campus.
Scialabba said, “… peaceful anti-war student protesters are being put under attack by the same university that protected the blackface student, for bringing in a sign to a career fair event.”