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‘Underrepresented’ Students Issue Demands at Cal Poly

“Underrepresented” students from an unrecognized consortium of minority student groups at Cal Poly–known as SLO Solidarity–have joined the ranks of other student-led protests throughout the country and presented a list of 41 demands for diversity initiatives for administrators to implement.

“Our goal is to make Cal Poly a better place where equality for all students is realized, not just idealized,” an email that includes the ultimatum asserts, according to Campus Reform. “We are putting forth this list of demands to be delineated and acted on [sic] by those staff, faculty, and administrators whose job it is to represent the students of Cal Poly.”

The demands include a commitment to hiring more minorities and “faculty of color hires” for tenure-track faculty positions by a margin of three percent per year until the faculty demographics are representative of the State of California. Other demands include the creation of a “Greek Life Diversity and Inclusivity Task Force,” “students from cultural clubs on campus,” and having “first year residence halls provide a comparable level of gender-neutral facilities to gendered facilities, in restroom facilities and living arrangements.”

The demands also include a clause calling for more data sharing and transparency and “the expansion of the Student Ombuds service to encompass bias incident reporting systems specifically targeting instances of racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, or queerphobia–including an online reporting system with ties to the Ombuds office.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey reportedly responded to the ultimatum on Cal Poly’s behalf, saying, “The university agrees with most of these student-generated ideas and indeed already had some similar proposals in development before these recent discussions began.” He continued, “Diversity and inclusion remain a key concern for Cal Poly, and the university works continually to provide an open and inviting campus climate for all students, employees and visitors.”

Similar efforts were recently made at Occidental College, where minority students led efforts to occupy the private university’s administration building for nearly a week as they presented a list of demands which called for the resignation of the school’s president, Jonathan Veitch, and for unarmed campus security officers to relinquish their bulletproof vests. Veitch said he was not going anywhere.

On Thursday, Veitch–who has served in his current post since 2009–held an hour-long meeting with student protesters in another attempt to reason with them. He was again grilled by them, this time for allegedly spending too much time away from campus as they occupied the building he works in. According to the Los Angeles Times, Veitch disputed allegations that the school is not committed to diversity and said he was perhaps partly to blame for an air of hostility between students and the administration. Occidental’s student body is 42% minority or multiracial.

On several occasions, Veitch attempted to meet with the students, but they made it very difficult to conduct a constructive dialogue. The Times notes that he was similarly disrespected during Thursday’s meeting when students laughed at several of his answers, prompting sociology professor and the meeting’s moderator, Richard Mora, to tell them, “You have to show respect.”

The students again demanded Veitch’s resignation if their demands are not implemented. “This is the beginning of the conversation,” Veitch reportedly said.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.

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