Austin Linthicum/Mustang News

As part of a senior project, business administration students hosted a panel discussion about violent extremism titled “Stand Above” on Nov. 16.

The panel, consisting of three Muslim Cal Poly students and three Muslim Cal Poly professors,  discussed the importance of being informed about the Muslim faith, accepting others and combating Islamophobia.

At the conclusion of the “Stand Above” panel, the audience took an online pledge, showing their commitment to stopping discrimination, creating change and helping to end terrorism.

“We are all here in this county to be helpful to each other and get to know each other — not to hate each other or fight against each other,” panelist and civil and environmental engineering professor Ashraf Rahim said. “We’re all in [the] same boat. To keep the boat sailing, I think we should get together.”

“Stand Above” was born from a senior project assigned by a Cal Poly business administration professor. Business administration students then created “Fusion Marketing,” the agency that built the university’s campaign. The student agency received a budget of $2,000 to produce a real campaign that has measurable impact on the campus and the community.

Sponsored by EdVenture Partners, schools from around the nation are also competing to build a campaign with the goal of challenging extremism.

When the competition concludes at the end of the quarter, students will put together a report detailing the reach and impact of their campaign. If Cal Poly places in the top six teams, the team will receive scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.

If the group places, they could present the campaign to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Facebook, giving the project the chance to be taken to a national level.

President of the Cal Poly chapter of the Muslim Student Association Rubia Siddiqi supports the idea of acceptance being spread across campus and through the U.S. with this project.

“It is so important that people that aren’t Muslim know what Islam is and that we are accepted as part of the community,” civil and environmental engineering graduate student Siddiqi said.

Given the recent presidential election, the panelists noted the timeliness of this event.

“After an election, hate crimes go up. It’s a good time to debrief and talk about things in a time when people want to get information,” political science sophomore and panelist Neda Jamaly said.

“Its not an easy time for us,” Rahim said. “The feeling is to leave the country totally.”

To sign the campaign’s pledge, visit

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