December 11, 2013

Update to Cal Poly Campus Regarding Nov. 16 Party
and University Efforts on Diversity and Inclusivity

Dear Cal Poly Students, Faculty, and Staff:

The university has concluded its review of the off-campus party that occurred on Nov. 16, which was described to us in a formal complaint as an event that may have included culturally insensitive, sexist, and offensive behavior.

Interviews with people who attended the party indicate that the party was problematic, notably in its encouragement of the sexual objectification of women and being demeaning to Native Americans. The review found no evidence that party hosts systematically billed the party theme in offensive terms, but it appears some of the party planners did so in an informal way. While we personally deplore this behavior, the university’s review found no verifiable evidence that any campus policies were violated.

In the course of the review and the ensuing campus dialogue, a number of students, faculty and staff expressed concern that our community has much work to do around these issues.

We fully agree. Together — students, faculty, staff, and alumni — we can, and must, do better to create a campus climate that is open and welcoming to all. Each of us has responsibility for working toward this goal, and each of us needs to contribute to ensure that we genuinely improve our campus climate.

Here are some ways that we, as a campus, can work on these issues:

In January, at the annual Greek Summit that brings together the fraternity and sorority leaders, Student Affairs representatives will initiate a discussion about attitudes and activities that could help address not only alcohol abuse but also issues related to gender and diversity.

In February, we will be conducting a Campus Climate Survey. We strongly encourage campus community members to complete the survey, as this will be an opportunity for all faculty, staff and students to share their experiences and perceptions of the campus climate.

The Center for Teaching and Learning Technology has hired a curriculum specialist to assist faculty on incorporating diversity and inclusivity into their curriculum.

As a follow-up to the Nov. 22 forum held in response to the party, the Cross Cultural Centers is offering programs to teach students how to help enhance the campus climate for diversity and inclusivity. For more information, please go to: http://studentlife.calpoly.edu/culture/index.asp.

The Office of University Diversity and Inclusivity is a resource for the campus for those who want to help strengthen our community. For more information, please contact the office at http://diversity.calpoly.edu or by e-mail at diversity@calpoly.edu.

The goal of creating a culturally stronger, more diverse campus is longstanding. It is a value embedded in our strategic plan and reaffirmed by the Academic Senate in Cal Poly’s Statement on Commitment to Community.

And students expressed it well in The Mustang Wa,y encouraging all of us to "embrace one another" and "strive to create an atmosphere of mutual respect, celebrating the positive differences that make us unique."

Sincerely,

Jeffrey D. Armstrong
President

Keith B. Humphrey
Vice President for Student Affairs

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