A diversity specialist and panel discussion to address a string of recent racially-charged incidents and how the campus community can move forward will be the subject of Cal Poly's biennial Baker Forum on Friday afternoon.
The event, called "Our Collective Journey Begins: Real and Raw, An Intimate Dialogue to Get Us on Track," will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. inside the Performing Arts Center.
Kimberly McLaughlin-Smith, who serves as the diversity and inclusion specialist at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, will deliver the keynote address, according to a university news release.
McLaughlin-Smith has been consulting with Cal Poly "to lead the university in some initial healing steps," the release said.
The forum also will include a dialogue with panelists José Navarro, an assistant professor in the ethnic studies department; Leilani Hemmings Pallay, an ethnic studies student; philosophy professor Patrick Lin; mathematics professor Stan Yoshinobu; Bryan Hubain, assistant dean of students and director of the Cross Cultural Centers; and San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon.
The Baker Forum was established following two decades of service to Cal Poly by President Emeritus Warren J. Baker and his wife, Carly, to "further the dialogue on critical public policy issues facing the nation and higher education," the release said.
Tensions have been high at Cal Poly in recent weeks as waves of outrage hit the campus following incidents of racist behavior by two fraternities and the posting of hateful fliers and graffiti in university buildings.
Last week, alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at an on-campus "fake news" panel, an event that required police from all 23 California State University system campuses to travel to San Luis Obispo to support the college's University Police Department.
The school said it hopes Friday's forum will "provide an opportunity for real dialogue that will help the university change and grow."