Education

In a year of racial turmoil, Cal Poly will host Black Student Unions conference

Cal Poly will host the regional United Black Student Unions of California Conference on Saturday — bringing more than 100 African-American students from the Lompoc and Los Angeles areas to a campus that’s dealt with recent incidents of racism.

High schools in Southern California send student delegations to learn about college admissions, political and social trends, and academic and human development, according to a news release from Cal Poly.

Students will tour the campus and hear a keynote talk from Denise Isom, chair of Cal Poly’s Ethnic Studies Department, the release said.

The United Black Student Unions of California has a 44-year history with goals of preparing students to enter the workforce and be responsible members of society, according to the UBSUC website. The organization also teaches African American history and emphasizes the importance of being productive citizens and leaders who give back to their communities, the site said.

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California Student Opportunity and Access Program, the NAACP Lompoc chapter and the Black Student Unions of California worked together to bring the regional conference to Cal Poly, according to the Cal Poly release.

Cal Poly has historically had difficulty attracting black students, who made up less than 1 percent of the student body in fall 2017. That is the smallest proportion of black students among all public universities in California, according to enrollment data provided by the CSU and UC systems.

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In September, Cal Poly was rated among the worst public schools for black students in the state, according to a report from USC’s Race and Equity Center.

Cal Poly’s administration has made efforts in 2018 to create a more inclusive campus after a series of racially charged incidents that resulted in protests and suspensions of fraternities and sororities in 2017, including an incident in which a fraternity member wore blackface.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930; @MonicaLVaughan
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