As you walk the Cal Poly campus, it may cross your mind that diversity is not a large part of Cal Poly. You wouldn’t be wrong. According to College Factual, the school makeup is nearly 60 percent Caucasian. Fifteen percent of the school is Hispanic/Latino and another 12 percent is Asian.
But if you listen to Peter Gonzalez’ radio show on KCPR, you may find that Cal Poly is more diverse than what meets the eye.
“Conversations with Peter Gonzalez” is a weekly talk show where Gonzalez interviews someone that he believes has an interesting story to tell. Often, they are minorities in one way or another.
A Latino himself, Gonzalez knows Cal Poly’s struggles with diversity all too well.
Gonzalez added that through his network of friends, many of whom are Week of Welcome leaders, he was able to find a variety of students to interview and learn about.
“There’s been a really great response when I ask people to come on the show and tell their story,” Gonzalez said. “There aren’t a lot of opportunities to do that here at Cal Poly.”
While Gonzalez has tried to integrate and learn about his peers, others have had very different experiences.
I asked Vicky Atieh, a Lebanese-American Psychology major about her experience at Cal Poly.
“As a Lebanese-American student, it was hard because I very rarely encountered students that shared my culture,” Atieh said. “I had to assimilate to the students around me, and often times I felt like I was being stripped of who I was.”
Atieh argued that inclusion starts with the majority—not the minority.
“The notion that you can’t look different or be different should be eliminated, biases should be explored, and inclusion should be encouraged,” Atieh said. “I feel like our campus can work on ignorance. Fraternities and sororities shouldn’t be the only outlet for inclusivity for anyone.”
That isn’t to say that Cal Poly isn’t trying.
Cal Poly’s Multicultural Center holds events on almost a weekly basis. I attended one, called Stand Above, which promoted ending violent extremism and had a panel of Islamic members of the San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly community, including a few students.
Allen Muñoz, an event organizer and fourth year Cal Poly student, said these events are beneficial for the community.
“The significance (for the community) is to promote awareness on the subject of discrimination,” Muñoz said, who is also Latino.
Muñoz went on to say that it’s more important now than ever that we try to understand one another’s differences and accept them.
Next time you walk around Cal Poly, try to look for the diversity. As Gonzalez said: the diversity is there, you just have to go and find it.