Education

New Cal Poly dorms will have names like yakʔitʸutʸu and tiłhini

Cal Poly’s new housing complex will be named yakʔitʸutʸu, after the Northern Chumash tribe.
Cal Poly’s new housing complex will be named yakʔitʸutʸu, after the Northern Chumash tribe.

Cal Poly announced that its new student housing community, slated to open in fall 2018, will be named for the Northern Chumash tribe, using words and letters that will likely be unfamiliar to many students.

The complex itself will be called yakʔitʸutʸu, while the seven residence halls will draw their names from tribal sites found along the Central Coast: elewexe, nipumūʔ, tiłhini, tsʰɨtqawɨ, tšɨłkukunɨtš, tsɨpxatu and tsɨtkawayu.

For those struggling with the names, Cal Poly “will undertake a robust campaign to educate the campus, all future incoming freshmen and external partners on pronunciation of the residential community and individual hall names,” Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier said.

The university has also provided a video guide on how to correctly pronounce the names.

Cal Poly's new student housing community, slated to open in fall 2018, will be named for the Northern Chumash tribe using words and letters likely unfamiliar to students, such as elewexe, nipumūʔ and tiłhini. Here's how to say the names.

The new dorms also will be numbered, just like the rest of the campus, to “help facilitate public safety response, delivery of mail and other day-to-day operations.”

Located at the campus’ Grand Avenue entrance, the complex is expected to house 1,475 freshmen in 696 rooms starting in the 2018-19 academic year. A roof-mounted 1.1-megawatt solar system will help power the 12-acre complex, which also will include a welcome center, retail space and nature walking paths.

The dorms have a total projected cost of $198 million.

“We view the Cal Poly housing project as a partnership between the yak titʸu titʸu tribe and Cal Poly,” Northern Chumash tribal member Leah Mata said. “Our goal is to provide a narrative using our own voice and world view to share how we view our places that matter.”

Response to the announcement on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube ranged from critical (“Cool idea, completely flawed execution. You can bet that everyone’s gonna give up and call this ‘the yak’ right away.”) to the supportive (“Wow, a school making an extra effort to educate its students in ways not just inside the classroom. ... What a concept!”) to the sarcastic (“Rolls right off your tongue, doesn’t it?”)

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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