Anti-Defamation League is looking for new advisory board

The Anti-Defamation League’s regional chapter on the Central Coast is looking to San Luis Obispo County civic and business leaders for its new advisory board.

San Luis Obispo Police Department Chief Deborah Linden and Rabbi Norman Mendel will lead the 22-member board and help guide activities, such as the “No Place for Hate” campaign, to foster tolerance and inclusion in the county.

The nonprofit ADL works to educate the community about subtle and overt racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, religious bias, and ethnic bigotry in communities and schools, ADL regional director Cynthia Silverman said.

“No Place for Hate” will include work in county schools, encouraging teachers and staff to collaborate with students on three activities per year to promote tolerance.

Ideas include writing an essay on Martin Luther King Jr.; hosting a multicultural day with different foods, activities and crafts; and a “no name-calling” day. A similar program spurred by the ADL exists in Santa Barbara.

Julian Crocker, the county superintendent of schools, said that he has endorsed the program for schools.

“This will build on asset development for our students,” Crocker said. “In order to support students, there is a whole set of assets necessary for them to be successful and which need to be in place for success in school.”

The “No Place for Hate” campaign in the schools has already been announced and is expected to come before school district leaders in January. The ADL or the new board members will be available to train teachers and staff on sensitivity, said Christine Enyart-Elfers, a community liaison with the County Office of Education.

ADL representatives worked closely with Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences after the incident last year in which a group of agriculture students displayed a noose and Confederate flag, as well as an alleged anti-gay sign near the Crops House on campus.

“Cal Poly has been very proactive in working with us,” Silverman said. “I think sometimes it takes an incident like that to wake up a community and realize that bigotry is out there. We provide education and hope to prevent bigotry. But we’re also here to respond when incidents happen.”

Some of the ADL’s county board members include Sierra Vista Regional Health Medical Center spokesman Ron Yukelson, Assistant District Attorney Dan Hilford, and San Luis Obispo lawyer Jeffrey Stulberg.

A group of community liaisons will also help a message of civil rights, equal opportunity, tolerance and inclusion.

Community liaisons on the local board include representatives from the County Office of Education and Cal Poly.

On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution recognizing the Anti-Defamation League and its “No Place for Hate” campaign, noting “our nation was founded on the fundamental conviction that all persons are entitled to equal protection, equal opportunity and to the enjoyment of civil rights.”