Cal Poly—more diverse than you might think

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.




I interviewed a Millennial, a Baby Boomer and a member of the Silent Generation about consuming music

I recently had the opportunity to interview three very distinct and different generations about their introduction to music. Millennials (1981-2000), Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and the Silent Generation (1927-1945) span nearly 100 years between them, leading to some contrasting life experiences and views.

I interviewed my grandfather, Bob Middlecamp, who is a member of the Silent Generation —  just after the G.I. generation and before the beginning of the Baby Boomers. Growing up on farm with three other siblings, his family didn’t have a budget for music.

It was seen as a luxury that the family couldn’t afford. His parents were products of the Great Depression and as a result, anything deemed excessive was trimmed.

“I don’t ever remember buying a record growing up. It just wasn’t something in our bag.” – Bob Middlecamp

His introduction to music came via the radio, listening to cowboy radio shows when he could. He and his twin brother also scrounged enough to buy a seven inch record. To this day, he doesn’t collect music, nor does it have a large part of his life. The radio is rarely on in the house or the car.

I also interviewed my mother, Linda Middlecamp, who was on the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation. She grew up listening to show tunes that her mother played and sang along to. Her father didn’t play his own music often, instead he preferred to read.

Her real introduction to music came when her parents bought her an AM/FM radio for her room on her 10th birthday, which opened her to a new world of seemingly unlimited possibilities.

“When I got my radio, FM was still a relatively new thing. I mostly flipped through AM stations.” – Linda Middlecamp

She began collecting on her own records late in high school and throughout college. Later, it became tapes, CDs and not long after, MP3s. Her parents had collections of their own (comic books, coins, birdhouses, pins) and her brother had a music collection of his own which normalized collecting.

Millennials have experienced the least amount of change in terms of how we consume music. I interviewed 23-year-old third-year mechanical engineering student Ishmael Rangel about his musical experience growing up. His first memories were of his family members playing music off of CDs in the car, before branching out into music on his own.

“I first purchased music from iTunes using an Itunes gift card on my iPod touch,” Rangel said.

Clearly each generation has their own way of not only viewing music, but consuming it. As I have touched on in earlier posts, it will be interesting to where music goes following the rise of streaming services.