Cal Poly’s history of racism and issues with diversity inspired a group of 32 students to create a multimedia campaign called The Mustang in the Room. The project originated from an Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts (ISLA) class this quarter. The name is a play of the old saying, “the elephant in the room,” and the project raises issues about diversity that many Cal Poly students may struggle to talk about.
The Mustang in the Room is multidimensional, and features a website that informs Cal Poly by using a Learn by Doing approach. Students can learn more by reading blog posts, listening to student-made podcasts and watching relevant videos. They can also play informational games that check personal bias and privilege. The Mustang in the Room can be found on several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and SoundCloud.
“Cal Poly students celebrating diversity, calling for unity” is The Mustang in the Room’s motto. The campaign is intended to provide a safe space for the discussion and education of topics pertaining to diversity.
“We want to be instruments of peace in this hostile environment with the ultimate goal of ending discrimination on campus,” Muara Johnston, the professor facilitating the project, said in a press release.
Business administration sophomore and co-producer of the project Kevin Masukawa said that he wanted to pursue this topic because of the passive nature of Cal Poly students when it comes to these issues.
“I’ve noticed that once the initial shock blows over, people stop caring,” Masukawa said.
The Mustang in the Room has only just been released, but Masukawa is optimistic that more Cal Poly students will be encouraged to talk about diversity and issues with racism on campus long after these events occur.
“The change needs to come from students, from the bottom up,” Masukawa said.
In the first podcast of the series titled “Where We’re At,” students said they felt like they were talking to a void when voicing issues about diversity and issues that face each of their communities. The goal of this campaign is to host an open forum-like space where students don’t have to feel like they are speaking to a void, and can instead have their voices heard.
“Racism, sexism, ableism, all forms of oppression including the silencing of dissenting opinions on this campus seem to blow over, and everyone waits until we can be ‘the happiest city in America’ again,” Masukawa said. “That’s not how it works. It is not something that should be brought up at your convenience; it should be addressed so it doesn’t happen again.”