CSA PCW 2015/Courtesy

New Student and Transition Programs (NSTP) is training about 40 returning students to lead the new Cross Cultural Experience (CCE) for Week of Welcome (WOW). Starting Fall 2018, Incoming students can choose to be a part of a CCE WOW group. The program was created to form a community for students who identify as  members of an underrepresented group.

Beyond the information sessions, bonding activities and events that make up the traditional WOW experience, students participating in CCE will attend additional workshops, activities, discussions and a multicultural resource fair.

While CCE was offered Fall 2017, the program was implemented in the middle of the summer, not leaving time for WOW leaders to be trained specifically for the program. Fall 2018 will be the first time having CCE leaders that were part of facilitator groups during spring training.

“It encompasses all of these marginalized groups that don’t necessarily identify as a Cal Poly student because it’s a predominantly white institution,” animal science junior and CCEWOW leader Tim Guerzon said. “This program helps further immerse themselves in the community that we have here in terms of cross cultural experience, centers and other resources.”

Guerzon said the CCE program will build on the original CCE program offered last year and will feature a more organized program by requiring a formal training for these WOW leaders. CCE leaders are required to attend four of the following supplemental workshops: Why Pronouns Are Important, Dreamer Ally, Navigating Our Identities, How to Succeed at a Predominantly White Institution, Free Speech vs. Hate Speech and Cultural Competency Practical.

“These workshops all have very contrasting themes, but they all pertain to how people of color, how marginalized students coming in here who don’t feel adequate or feel curious and apprehensive about Cal Poly, how we can make them feel more comfortable and gain a sense of community,” Guerzon said.

Given the recent events at Cal Poly, many people believe that this program was built in response to current campus climate. According to graphic communication junior and CCE  leader Marco Sevilla, NSTP had wanted to move in this direction for a while.

“I think that it scared some people off, but also gave some people a sense of purpose,” Sevilla said about events that occurred earlier in the quarter. “It was kind of like, ‘How can I be an ambassador for the school when I don’t even feel safe?’ But I feel like it installed my purpose to stay as a CCE leader and create as much of a welcoming environment as possible for any underrepresented students that happen to be in my WOW group.”

In one of the developmental workshops for CCE leaders Sevilla attended, they discussed how some could argue that this is dividing students further.

“It sounds counterproductive to segregate underrepresented students at first, but it’s like a process of segregation and integration,” Sevilla said. “If they have a sense of community, they’ll feel more comfortable being on [campus], versus just being thrown into … a general WOW group.”

Sevilla believes this is an important step for NSTP and CCE is an example of taking tangible steps towards teaching people how to respect other identities.

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