Education

Cal Poly president condemns ‘hurtful and offensive’ flyers posted around campus

Cal Poly student Gina Welisch said she first saw these flyers posted on campus on Jan. 16, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is unknown if these flyers were the ones alluded to in President Jeffrey Armstrong’s email.
Cal Poly student Gina Welisch said she first saw these flyers posted on campus on Jan. 16, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is unknown if these flyers were the ones alluded to in President Jeffrey Armstrong’s email.

Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong condemned unauthorized flyers posted on the college campus recently, saying they were “hurtful and offensive to many in our community.”

“As we have said in the past, hate has no place at Cal Poly,” Amstrong wrote in an email to the Cal Poly community Monday. “We condemn any act intended to intimidate, frighten, harass or hurt a member of our campus community. Such actions are borne of ignorance and cowardice and seek to promote division and false narratives rather than empathy and thoughtful discussion — the very ideals for which our university stands.”

In the email, Armstrong urged students to “consider the perspectives of others and treat every member of the Cal Poly family with compassion and humanity.”

Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier said he could not disclose further details of what specifically the flyers said or how they came to Armstrong’s attention.

Though the content of the flyers Armstrong condemned is unclear, philosophy student Gina Welisch said she found what she called “extremely racist” flyers posted on campus on Jan. 16, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The flyers, which she shared photos of on Facebook, compared assault rates between the black and white population, and made other racial statements about welfare, AIDS, homicides and domestic violence.

flyers
Cal Poly student Gina Welisch said she first saw these flyers posted on campus on Jan. 16, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is unknown if these flyers were the ones alluded to in President Jeffrey Armstrong’s email. Gina Welisch

Welisch said she thinks the flyers she found were the ones alluded to in Armstrong’s email.

“I was angry but not surprised, as this sort of thing seems to happen every quarter,” Welisch said. “But I’m frustrated because Cal Poly has made it pretty clear that they aren’t going to do anything substantial to change the culture on campus. The fact that it took the administration a whole week to come out against this extremely racist poster speaks volumes to me and to other students on campus, especially students of color.”

Welisch said as a white female, she can’t speak to the experiences of other students, but she hopes the administration will “work harder to amplify underrepresented voices on campus.”

“They need to listen to input from these underrepresented communities on how Cal Poly can improve,” she said.

Some theorized that the flyers referenced were part of an nationwide flyer campaign that co-opts sexual consent language to push anti-immigration sentiment (for example, some of the flyers feature a cartoon version of the United States fending off a grabbing hand from the south, labeled #MyBordersMyChoice) from the online group 4Chan. The group planned a flyer campaign for Sunday night, specifically targeting women’s studies or women-focused departments on college campuses around the country.

It is unknown if any such flyers were posted on Cal Poly’s campus this week.

This isn’t the first time inflammatory flyers have prompted outrage on campus.

Monday’s email comes roughly a month after anti-undocumented immigrant flyers were placed outside the campus Dream Center, which houses the Undocumented Student Working Group. Those flyers were under investigation by University Police Department.

Cal Poly students gathered on the San Luis Obispo campus on Jan. 16, 2017, for a "March Against Rape Culture" as part of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement to protest sexual harassment and assault.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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