No, Cal Poly. The Tribune got it right

By SLO Peace Coalition members

Watch Cal Poly students protest against Raytheon

Watch five Cal Poly students protest against Raytheon at a Campus Career fair. Raytheon, a university donor, produces military weaponry.
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Watch five Cal Poly students protest against Raytheon at a Campus Career fair. Raytheon, a university donor, produces military weaponry.

As Cal Poly students and alumni who participated in the April, 2018 SLO Peace Coalition protest of Raytheon at the Cal Poly Career Fair, we are shocked to see the recent Viewpoint written by Keith Humphrey, Vice President for Student Affairs at Cal Poly, which attacks students and the press for speaking truth to power, while also contradicting the university’s own judicial rulings.

In our action, and the similar action at the October 2018 Career Fair, Cal Poly students entered their own career fair in an attempt to engage Raytheon and the Cal Poly community in a discussion to build a more peaceful world. Both actions focused on educating the campus community on how Raytheon makes billions of dollars a year creating weapons of war that kill innocent civilians around the world, including weapons being used by Saudi Arabia in the U.S.-backed War on Yemen.

In both protests, students left as soon as instructed to do so by campus police. In both March and October, students were found not in violation of the Cal Poly Code of Conduct. Yet in his Dec. 6 Viewpoint, Keith Humphrey attacked both of these findings by casting illegitimate doubt on students involved in the protest and the communities that rose to protect them.

How are students supposed to do their work, right before final exams, when a top Cal Poly administrator is dog whistling them to the press? We believe the only real disruptive speech present in this situation is that of Keith’s.

Further, Keith said that supporting student’s free speech rights “could unintentionally send a signal that Cal Poly is not a good place to recruit students.” Does this mean employers are only looking for mindlessly obedient workers, unable to question and challenge the status quo? Does it mean students cannot speak freely at their own career fair with their fellow peers and potential employers? We don’t think so, and neither does Cal Poly’s own judicial system.

Rather than mindless obedience, we embrace a form of “Learn By Doing” that calls upon students to critically engage with their own potential employers and the world around them. No matter how you slice it, we reject the notion that six students singing at a billion dollar corporation’s booth is disruptive or in violation of any university code of conduct — and despite Keith Humphrey’s recent Viewpoint in The Tribune, Cal Poly’s judicial system agrees.

As such,

We demand an apology from Keith Humphrey and the redaction of his Dec. 6 Viewpoint, which contradicts the findings of his own judicial system and directly threatens innocent peaceful student protesters.

We demand Cal Poly cease its harassment of peaceful student protesters and respect the right of students who engage in peaceful and sanctioned protest at career fairs.

We demand that Cal Poly work to end ties to Raytheon and other military contractors complicit in human rights violations.

And we reaffirm the SLO Peace Coalition Demands, which call for Cal Poly to divest endowments and sponsored lab spaces from companies making a killing off of killing.

We promise to continue to act in solidarity with any and all students engaged in the peaceful protest of war mongering institutions on our current and/or former campus, and to publicly oppose threatening and intimidating investigations or sanctions against them. We believe it is our duty to fight for the rights and dignity of all people belonging to the Cal Poly community, and beyond.

Submitted by Cal Poly students and alumni who participated in the April 2018 career fair protest: Mick Bruckner, Class of 2018; Matt Klepfer, Class of 2018; Dominic Scialabba, Class of 2019; Kristen Whalen, Class of 2018; Gianna Bissa, Class of 2019; Kelsey Zazanis, Class of 2019; Abby Ahlgrim, Class of 2018.

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