SLO’s Impact on Surfing

(Pictured Above) Maggie McLchlan, senior Wine and Viticulture Major

 

(Pictured above) Dana Hamann

 

Huntington Beach, host to US Open surf competitions

 

Hello everyone, I’m Kenny Campbell and my partners are: Bailey Ellis, Ariana Afshar and Eric Waggoner. We are four journalism majors at Cal Poly SLO.

We have banded together, through our senior practicum class, to tell awesome stories for Mustang News using four mediums: word, audio/visual, multimedia and strategy and engagement. Our group project this time around started when our professor Kim Lisagor Bisheff told us about Rose Badrigian, a Cal Poly Alumni and founder of the surf company Boobees.

Once we went and met up with Badrigian and heard about how her company Boobees was making sustainable surf wax out of bee’s wax, our group became very interested about our topic: the impact that San Luis Obispo has on the surfing community.  Eric Waggoner, the author of our article, had this to say about his reporting process and talking with Badrigian: “It was inspiring to cover this story about someone with an entrepreneurial spirit and is taking an initiative to create a meaningful impact towards bee conservation. I think that it was great covering this story and getting to see how a Cal Poly grad is creating something that is meaningful through her many passions.”

We also interviewed Brandon Baldovin, a graduate Aerospace Engineering major and Maggie McLchlan, a surfer and a senior Wine and Viticulture major at Cal Poly.  Baldovin works with two of his fellow graduate engineering students to make advances in surfboard technology and McLchlan is a local surfer.

Talking to Baldovin and his crew was a blast because they were so passionate about the topic. McLchlan helped us get female perspective of the surf community in SLO, which was key to our reporting.

Badrigian taught us that women surfers were not treated nearly as well as men surfers and has aspirations of using her company to promote her fellow female surfers. Another female surfer, Dana Hamann, has already begun to notice women in surfing more in recent years: “I think over the last few years women surfing has really started to shine.”

Overall, after talking with all three of these sources, what stood out to us was how much surfing can actually hurt the environment if the surfboards are not designed in an ecology friendly way and how surfing can be used as a platform to promote women in sports. Ariana Afshar, our groups multimedia person for this project touched on her shock of the lack of sustainability in the surf community: “The most interesting aspect of covering this story was finding out that surfing isn’t sustainable and good for the environment.”

For me personally I was educated on this topic through an interview I conducted with a family friend Donnie Laughlin. Laughlin, the owner of Sea Brothers Surfboards in San Diego,  educated me by telling me this:  “A lot of the traditional surfboards are made from materials that go straight into the landfill, but now surfboards are being made of ETS, eco friendly resin, the same material that foam beer coolers are created from. 

Laughlin also told me about surfboard makers that use ultraviolet lights to replace some of the toxic wastes involved in making most surfboards. To delve more into the topic of sustainability in surf boards Bailey Ellis, our groups audio/visual person, talked to a local surfer that said: “These (the surfboard in his hand) are really not sustainable, they are not made out of recyclable materials at all.”

This project helped us realize that there are major shifts developing to make surfing more ecology friendly and SLO is already doing its part to adapt to and encourage this change. Also, that surfing is in the same boat as a lot of other sports; women do not have the representation they deserve in their sport, but are starting to make progress. 

Behind the Scenes: Discovering Cal Poly Archery Club

When the topic  of Cal Poly’s archery club was pitched, I was immediately pumped up. I knew absolutely nothing about the sport, let alone anything about our on campus club, but I knew there would be a great story in there and the opportunity to meet archery enthusiasts.

Members gather weekly at SLOSA range for events and a chance to bond over their love for the sport. Photo by: Alejandra Garcia

 

As the Strategy/Engagement individual this week, I immediately reached out to the president of the club, Timmy Nguyen. I spoke to him on the phone and easily set up an interview.

At this interview both Candice and I asked questions about the origins of the club, certain techniques used and events they hold. It was exciting to see the passion he had for archery while talking to us, giving  us in depth answers to simple questions.

We were told they had both an event and fundraiser that coming weekend at the San Luis Obispo Sportsmen’s Association (SLOSA).

Candice Kelchner took on the role of videographer for this story and shares her experience in covering this story.

“After working on this project, I’ve gained a new perspective on and have an increased interest in archery. Going to SLOSA gave me insight as to why people have an interest in archery. Additionally, watching the Cal Poly Archery Club at SLOSA provided me with a taste of the thrill that can come from archery. Overall, this was a fun topic to cover.”

SLOSA is a wide-open range with beautiful scenery and plenty of space for members to practice. It is located next door to the shooting range and has several targets and wooden figures for members to practice on. 

 

SLOSA is located on Highway 1 between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Photo by: Alejandra Garcia

As we walked out to the designated archery area we were immediately welcomed by the treasurer of the club as well as some of the members. After getting the permission of those at the range, we captured our footage needed while also getting to know the members and learning more about the club and archery as a sport.

Timmy Nguyen, second year electrical engineer and president of the Cal Poly archery club gave us insight on the competitiveness of the organization.

“Right now our club is basically recreational. We have a few members who want to get into it competitively, including me, so I’m going to start that next year,” said Nguyen. “We have members who participate to the side who are a little more serious and prefer something quieter. That’s basically what I do because I want to get better really fast just to get to that competitive level that so many other schools are at by next year so that I can compete with them at a head to head level.”

Julio Escamilla, third year materials engineer and secretary of the archery club has been shooting for two years at Cal Poly. Photo by: Alejandra Garcia

This story seemed to be a little more challenging to put together, not because of the content or material, but with having our whole group in attendance when we interviewed sources. 

Going into the role of word, I was slightly worried because I haven’t actually written a story in a while,” said Jessica Frantzides. “I was really hoping the process would come right back to me, just like riding a bike. And it did to a point, but I was definitely rusty. The hardest part for me was actually indirect, due to me being out of town for 5 days during the process. This made me very reliant on my group for interviews and content to write on. Fortunately, we worked cohesively and I was able to get everything together easily and on time.”

Lauren Pluim, who filled the interactive role this week experienced something similar, “The archery story has been tougher than the rest for me due to the fact that I have not been able to attend any of the meet ups due to my lack of availability on the weekends.  I am very lucky that my group members were so willing to help out and pick up the slack in my portion of the story.”

Overall, this was an exciting story to cover. As a group, we learned a lot and were able to meet some great people. As a graduating senior, I wish I knew about this club sooner because I definitely would have joined.

So, all the liquor stores in SLO are owned by Syrians?

In the small town of San Luis Obispo, there lies a heap of small mom and pop shop liquor stores. These liquor stores happen to all be owned by Syrians, some of whom are even in the same family. Intriguing right? We thought so. So we decided to get to the bottom of who these guys really were and if they were actually all related. What we found- they might not ALL be related, but some of them are and they definitely all know each other. Our next question, why liquor and why San Luis Obispo?

The idea came to us when we were brainstorming a story topic. We tossed out a lot of ideas, mainly surrounding the theme of alcohol, (because we’re seniors and it was week 7). We came up with the idea to do an story on IPA’s, our generations beer. Who could we interview? Craft brew makers, students…and then it hit us! Liquor store owners! “You know the guy that owns Sandy’s is from Syria right?” I said. “Wait, they’re all Syrian!” Dan said. And the story was born.

We found the three most popular liquor stores by polling students. When we asked what was the top liquor store, Campus Bottle took the win. Next, we asked Reddit what the Cal Poly community would want to know about the story. The replies were mixed, but we for the most part got pretty positive feedback from the slo community during the entirety of our project.

We chose to interview owners from three different stores:

Campus Bottle Shoppe located at 290 California Blvd
Cork N Bottle located at 774 Foothill Blvd
Sandy’s located at 586 Higuera St

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I learned while doing the backgrounder section of the project was for a lack of better words- insane. So apparently, in 2011, this guy Tony Fadel and his family moved to Santa Maria from Syria. They settled in and have ever since called the Central Coast their home. They opened up a liquor store in Santa Maria which is now considered famous in the Syrian community. Tony and his family have helped 25 Syrian families immigrate to the US from Syria. After moving to the Central Coast, the families are offered the chance to work at one of the Fadel’s liquor stores as they acclimate to California and are able to go make a life for themselves on their own. This is the reason that many of the liquor stores on the Central Coast (including little San Luis Obispo) are Syrian owned.

When we first went to Campus Bottle the owner was not thrilled on the idea…

“You can write a story about the liquor store but not about me. It doesn’t matter I’m from Syria, it doesn’t matter that I’m from anywhere. You don’t talk about Syria.”

Lauren went on to ask “I understand completely. We more want to know, why SLO? and why liquor stores.”

His response, “I was a teacher in Syria for 30 years. I can’t teach here. Liquor stores is the easy job.”

After talking over with him more and getting him comfortable with the idea that we were more curious than interrogative, he agreed to do an interview. To know more about our interviews and profiles of the store owners, check out our project! Coming soon!

 

 

 

 

Behind the Story: The Great Sandwich Wars of San Luis Obispo

Around the world, cities ant towns have their “thing.” For San Luis Obispo, California, it’s clear that “thing” is sandwiches. Anyone who comes here would note a seemingly disproportionate number of sandwich spots compared to other small town staples like pizza or tacos. Why does San Luis Obispo need more than ten distinct deli sandwich places? You’ll find the answer as soon as you ask a local. Few things in this world are as hotly debated as which sandwich shop locals prefer, and most of the others involve uranium.

We wanted to know just makes people so passionate about certain sandwiches and their deli. A poll was disseminated on various social media platforms and garnered almost 200 legitimate answers, and about 50 amateur comics. We polled only for local, independently owned delis, cutting out about five shops and narrowed down to our top five. 

A Dutch Punch sandwich at High St. Deli. A local Favorite

In at number one was High St. deli. This result was not too surprising as High St. is widely acknowledged as a student and local favorite. In total, it received a massive 54% of the vote. What was truly interesting about our survey was always going to be second through fifth place.

A Pastrami Sensation at Lincoln Market and Deli. A recommendation by the sandwich makers.

Second place went to the perhaps most distinctly anti-High St., Lincoln Market and Deli. Lincoln fans are fairly vocal about their support for the deli and showed up to give their _____ just under 13% of the vote. A relative newcomer, Kona’s Deli squeaked in third with 10%.

A Beach Break sandwich at Kona’s Deli. Designated on thier menu as a Cal Poly and local favorite.

A particularly rewarding part of conducting this survey was getting to relay the results back to the appreciative, and sometimes sour voters. After posting the results on reddit, one /u/ProfDocworm graciously commented, “I love delis and am new to the area so this list is my new bucket list, thank you so much for doing this! So much sandwich, so little time!” But of course for every /u/ProfDocworm, there’s a /u/strbeanjoe who didn’t care for the results, saying, “I called it! High St wins because “lol weed”!” To me, entertaining all the same.

Audio/video maestro, Kassidy Clark had this to say about her time working on Sandwich Wars “I feel like the topic of this project was way better than the last one. It was more fun and light-hearted, which made creating the content more fun and intriguing for me. I think finding sources was a lot easier this time around because people actually want to talk about it. Overall, I’m happy with the way it turned out and I think I would like going for the more fun “Buzzfeed” type stories.”

Our wordsmith Julia Glick said, “Sandwiches was an awesome topic to write about. It was fun and light-hearted, and I think we could use more of those kinds of stories in the news. The word portion was extremely foreign to me, but with help from my group members, it made me feel a lot more confident in the final product.”

Finally with our interactive interests, Lena Binley said, “I really enjoyed doing a project on delis in SLO. What’s not to love about sandwiches? I was in charge of the interactive components of the project , which is something I don’t have much experience with. I had fun getting out of my comfort zone and creating an interactive story map. Food is so visual, so the most important part to me was to keep readers and viewers engaged with plenty of photos and interesting descriptions of each deli.”

 

 

Behind the Scenes: LVL. Coffee

Blake Hester began LVL. Coffee as a senior project, but after a few sales, he quickly saw the market.

What started out as a senior project quickly turned into something more for Agricultural Business senior  Blake Hester. With the freedom to do whatever he wanted, he wanted to take his passion for coffee and create a product that was equally health beneficial as it was tasty.  That led to the creation of LVL. Coffee, a cold brew with health benefits and sustained energy boost.

MCTs are easily digested and provide energy, support the metabolism and are burned by the body for energy and fuel.

Hester modeled his coffee from the popular health company brand Bulletproof Coffee, which is a hot coffee that is mixed with butter and MCT (which mean medium chain triglycerides)  Oil. The difference between Bulletproof Coffee and Hester’s coffee is that LVL. Coffee refrains from using butter and is also dairy free.  Hester gets his MCT oil from the dietary supplement brand Nutiva,  which typically come from the saturated fatty acids found in coconuts.

After learning about Hester’s product our group immediately felt like his company would make a good story. What we did not anticipate was the struggle to keep the balance of the story. Samantha Siegal said, “This project was really interesting because we were challenged with the aspect of not making the story too promotional while also having limited access to our main source.  It showed us how the real world works and how you have to think on your toes to make a story work sometimes and I think we achieved that!”

It took us awhile, but once we finally switched our focus of the story towards Hester’s transition from a senior project towards an actual business then we were able to get the ball rolling with how we wanted to tackle the project.

Hester has a small warehouse space that he pays for all on his own.

We started by going to Hester’s workshop where we got to see his process in bottling and packaging his orders. What was unique about Hester was that he does almost everything on his own.  Including going into markets to try and get LVL. Coffee on the shelves.  “That’s one of my favorite parts, you get rejected a lot,  but its motivation for me to keep making a better product and to keep trying to get it in stores”, Hester said.

Hester bottles, labels and packages all orders of LVL. Coffee by himself.

Due to Hester’s solo mantra, our group did have trouble trying to figure out how to really capture a complete story especially since we had to coordinate with Blake’s busy schedule so that we would be able to see the workshop. “It was such a fun time working on this project! I learned it really difficult having a feature story on someone when the source isn’t available as much as you’d like, but it was still a success! We made it work”, Emily Hulsman said.

Overall our group has shown the ability to support each other whenever one of us has hit a bump in the road. We were able to think quickly and contact sources who weren’t even on our radar at the beginning of the process. Brian Robbins said, “I enjoyed working on this project but it was more challenging than our previous topic. I think it’s because most of our information came from one source but I enjoyed thinking outside the box about what other sources would be useful for this story.”

Hester hopes to expand LVL. Coffee to the Los Angeles and Orange County areas within the year and eventually into the San Francisco and Seattle markets further down the line. Currently LVL. Coffee can be purchased at Campus Market on the Cal Poly campus, Lincoln Deli and California Fresh Market as well as a few other locations in the San Luis Obispo area.

Blake Hester, Agricultural Business senior, is the creator and founder of LVL. Coffee.

 

How has increased enrollment really affected students? Part 2

Cali was on to something when she wrote in her blog two weeks ago, “A story like this needs more than a day or two. Heck, it needs more than a week or two.” This project was extended two more weeks. Because this project got extended, my group and I all had to tackle on an additional role for the story (audio/visual, word, etc.), but in reality, it felt like we all are doing everything together.

“This story has so much more depth to it than I think any of us initially realized,” said Cali. I’m really glad we were able to extend this into Project 2 because I think it is was able to get the proper coverage it deserved.” 

This mystery of over enrollment still exists. There are stories published about Cal Poly having too many students,  Cal Poly “packing in students”, and more data on the 2017 class of freshman.

The most difficult part due to this extension was how to divide up the “word” aka written portion. There is so much that can be said, but how will this be organized? After some discussion, it was decided that Mady was going to write one story and Bryce will follow up with her story the following week. This helped both Mady and Bryce pinpoint what they want to say.

 

“Our story evolved into a smaller scope than what we originally started with, which was challenging, but it helped make our focus more concise. This also made it easier to refine my direction in the word portion of this story.”-Mady Minas

The biggest reason why we needed this project extended was because we needed more interviews. Maraviglia provided us with a lot of useful information, but we needed more perspectives. So, we went on an interview spree. We interviewed Jefferey Dumars, Space and Facilities Utilization Manager, and Juanita Holler, Associate Vice President for Facilities Management and Development.

Dumars led us to a giant CSU database that has a lot of information that we will be using in our story. Fortunately for us, all of this information is not a secret and is in the public domain.

“Every CSU campus has undergone, and we’re just finishing ours if it’s not done, a study of each building, what condition it is, it’s a condition assessment.  We have that data, and so that will roll into plans to renovate buildings and is part of the capital outlay program.” Jeffrey Dumars 

We also had listed questions directly for admin and are waiting for a response.

We interviewed Christy McNeil Chand, a tenure track Theater & Dance Department professor. She told us that her office space was subpar (to say the least) when she came to Cal Poly in 2012.

 “When I was first arriving, back in summer of 2012, the office space I was assigned was the part-time office space next to the dance studio, which I found a live black widow, multiple cockroaches, it’s not really well insulated. It’s very cold or hot most of the time… I’ve seen mold in there…there were windows, but it faces the building next to it, so it let in a little bit of light. But I don’t even think I was able to open them, to be perfectly honest, because there was caging around them.” said Chand.

Some professors and faculty did not want to speak with us or said that they could only provide us with limited information, which was disappointing but expected.

“I feel like we made some breakthroughs in the past two weeks for this story, like finding that spreadsheet and talking to some passionate professors. It made me feel like a real journalist which is a really cool feeling.” – Bryce Aston

My group and I have made significant strides on this story and are looking to get this story published within the next few weeks.

What’s with this Fortnite craze?

After a tough time trying to figure out what to do for our second project we finally settled on the idea of doing a story about the Fortnite craze that is sweeping the nation.

Our collective knowledge on the topic was minimal. “I didn’t understand the hype surrounding Fortnite until I learned more about it for this project.” Candice Kelchner said.

“I knew the game was popular but I didn’t realize the extent to just how popular it is.”

Kelchner was in charge of the word portion of her story so she had to really delve in to understand the game and the hype surrounding it. Even though it was unfamiliar territory, she still enjoyed the learning process.

“Writing the article portion of this project was fun as it introduced me to a world that I am not very familiar with.” Kelchner said.

Alejandra Garcia was in charge of the audio and video aspect of things. I think that a very unique part of this project is that it is very visually oriented so the video portion was very important to this project.

Garcia found the story to be challenging, mostly because it doesn’t involve typical video elements and pushed the boundaries quite a bit. “This story ended up being a little more difficult to put together than I thought it would be. However, it helped to have sources who were passionate and dedicated to the game.” Garcia said. ” I could capture their excitement and competitiveness through their words and watching them play Fortnite.”

From what I observed of her interviews, the guys she interviewed have almost like a club. They get together and compete for hours on end. Their living room is set up to cater to the game.

The multimedia aspect was explored by Jessica Frantzides. This portion was quite interesting because it explored a bit more into the way Fortnite has influenced pop culture.

Fortnite has some preprogrammed dances that the characters do to gloat or as celebrations. These dances originate from existing dance moves in pop culture and have take social media by storm.

This is an example of what inspired the multimedia portion of our project:

“Doing the man on the street to collect video clips of people mimicking the emotes from Fortnite was so fun.” Frantzides said. “Getting to interact with people and laughs with them as they react to our request for them to dance was the best part.”

As the person in charge of strategy and engagement I found it interesting that when I polled people on Instagram asking if they play Fortnite that only 30 percent of people actively play. What was even more interesting is that of that 30 percent, over 80 percent were Cal Poly students. I know my follower demographic is a bit skewed but I think that I have a pretty decent mix of followers.

We had a lot of great and willing sources, especially from the eSports club on campus.

“I think Fortnite did really well engaging on Twitter, because that’s where they have gotten most of their inspiration for most of their emotes. Just from people submitting clips… Just recently they had Snoop Dogs emote on there.” Ryan Blair, Cal Poly eSports president said. “It really engages their audience.”

All in all this project was a fantastic learning experience for all of us. More than that it provided us with insight into a new community that exists here at Cal Poly.

SLO Tiny Homes Solution

This tiny house could be the solution to SLO’s big housing problem

Tiny Home Of SLO Blog Post

By Joey De Anda

San Luis Obispo is a beautiful coastal town located on the 101 fwy in the heart of California’s Central Coast. The town boasts beautiful scenery and no shortage of amazing outdoor activities. The great school system and safe neighborhoods make San Luis Obispo an ideal place to raise a family… that is if you can afford it. The central coast also has one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the country where the median home price is nearly half a million dollars.

Social Media Posts for the SLO Tiny Hopes solution

Some people are looking to change the fact that only a few can afford to live and stay in a community they have grown to love. The idea of building a tiny home community is the possible solution to a problem that is plaguing the area where homes are hard to come by. While tiny homes are not traditional dwellings that have the standard amenities but they give people the opportunity to have ownership over property that they can call their own.

The local non-profit Hopes Village of SLO is one of those groups trying to make a change. The organizers say they are attempting to find a piece of land that is approximately five acres in size that could be the site of the future tiny home village. The organizers are looking for the funding for such a venture and hope to end the homeless problem in San Luis Obispo with such a project. The concept would not be like a traditional mobile home park because tiny homes have a character and feel all of their own.

A social media survey we completed about the idea of a tiny home solution to the big problem of homelessness in SLO did not have the feedback that was expected. Most people really don’t see the tiny homes as a solution to the homeless problem and a facebook forum really confirmed that as there are deeper seated issues like lack of healthcare and mental health care for those who are struggling. In addition the comments were made that the ability to get people back on their feet was the most important.

What was valuable was the fact that we were able to find someone who owns a tiny home and get a tour while talking with her about the life adjustments she has made in making the transition all while having a great experience and how she recommends it.

 

 

 “The project was at times difficult to link in all of the different dynamics but we worked well together as a group and all pulled our weight making it to the different events”-Joey De Anda

“I think our topic ended up working very well for us. I think us going together for most interviews definitely helped us succeed. We found good sources and I think we have a great story about tiny homes in SLO” – Courtney Lucas

“This is a great project and video, we were able to show what it is like to live in a tiny home and the impact that it could make.” – Warren Fox

“It was fun to be able to see really different ways people live. Julie’s place might be small, but you can’t beat her view” – Danika Shultz

 

Behind the Scenes Blog: San Luis Obispo’s Hidden Chinatown

Walking into class on monday was a little nerve wrecking. We had just finished up our last project on augmented reality and I had personally hit a lot of roadblocks finishing up the main components for that story. Kenny Campbell, Bailey Ellis, Eric Wagner and I all sat in a circle trying to figure out what the best story could be for the next two week.

We first figured we could do a story on alternatives to getting drunk in San Luis Obispo, but then we realized after a few days that we really don’t have a story there. All of the alternatives are pretty well known between the students and the “so what?” component of the story just wasn’t there. At this point it was wednesday, and we really needed to start on our projects in order to meet the deadline.

We then came across the idea of San Luis Obispo’s long lost Chinatown and the remains of it tucked near downtown San Luis Obispo. We decided to change our topic and go in depth with the history of what the remanence of today’s Chinatown  used to be and how it became what it is now.

The Chinatown that we were about to do an extensive story on was all new information to us. No one on our team knew that Chinatown even existed. So we really had to start from ground zero to start this story. As the public relations person, I started to do my outreach and I also noticed that a lot of people of the community didn’t know there was a Chinatown in San Luis Obispo either. We all then noticed how crucial the story telling and information gathering of this story would be.

Now that we knew how much knowledge the community has on this topic and we had gathered a few sources, we all set out to uncover and tell the story. We interviewed Ethnic Studies professor Grace Yen, set out to find the last remaining elements of Chinatown and went to the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art to get some answers.

“Reporting on this story has helped me as a journalist by making me realize how important having good sources are to stories and how many different types of video can be used to tell a story.” Campbell said.

As we started to uncover the bits and pieces of what used to be Chinatown, we all realized what importance this story holds, not only to San Luis Obispo but to the Chinese community that essentially built this city from the railroads to the Chinese exclusion act. “I think this topic is important and relevant to the community of SLO because many people do not know how this community came to be and the Chinese immigrants helped build our community.” said Ellis.

Professor Yen, who was very informed in the topic told us how San Luis Obispo’s Chinatown came about and Ah Louis was an important part of the Chinese community. Ah Louis’s store, which is now owned by a different family, is open and running today. We walked through the street and took pictures of the remanence of what used to be a big, vibrant Chinatown.

“It was great to interview someone that was so passionate about the history of their town… after covering this story I’ve gained a deeper understanding of San Luis Obispo and the pioneers that built it.” Wagner said.

“As a journalist, it’s these stories that make me enjoy what I’m doing.” Wagner also added.

As we wrapped up our small journey through the hidden left jewels of the historic Chinese community, we all gained a new and profound respect for San Luis Obispo’s rich and once diverse community.  As we came to the end of the project and send all of our work in for publishment, we realized how valuable the work of being a journalist is.

 

Shining Light on Feelings After the Blackface Incident

Now what? A student covered his face in black paint, also known as blackface, at a school that  only has 166 students according to Cal Poly’s latest enrollment numbers.  We’re all studying at a ‘learn by doing’ school that seems to be doing nothing about their diversity problem. What seems to be the worst problem is that we’re now known nationally as the school where a student did blackface, but what’s even worse is that it’s referred to as our “latest racist dust-up,” by news outlets. How has this incident affected Cal Poly’s reputation? That’s what my group and I looked to find out.

We were all very passionate about this topic from the start, and knew how hard it would be to get sources. At least we thought we knew. From the second we decided on this topic my team and I started contacting everyone we possibly could so we could have every voice possible in our story. Only problem is not everyone wanted to talk. Matt Lazier in Lazier fashion dodged us as much as possible until finally giving a general cookie cutter statement on behalf of the school. That was no surprise. What was surprising was that people really thought they had said enough up to this point, or maybe, thought they would say too much and that’s why they all declined to comment. Black Student Union, College Republicans, ASI President, the list goes on and on for the people who didn’t want their voices heard. For a school that is looking for change, one would think more people would speak up.

Thankfully, the people who did speak up had a lot to say. There was good contrast among our sources. Some were livid, some sad and ashamed, and some thought this was the perfect point for change. To comment on what your school has done and where it is going next is not an easy task. Our sources did unanimously feel one thing together, that there needed to be change. Cal Poly’s reputation had been affected and if we wanted to stop something like this from happening again then we needed to do more. As cheesy as it sounds, what I mentioned earlier rings true. Our “learn by doing” school is not doing enough when it comes to their diversity problem. One of our sources, Mekai Sheffie, talked about how stuff like this has happened before. Colonial bros and nava-hoes, to the freedom of speech wall, all these racially insensitive events and actions that were only met with an open forum. Mustang News even wrote an article showing a timeline of the repeat offenses Cal Poly has had.

Our story is not only to reflect on what this most recent event had done to our campus and reputation, but to give a platform to the voices that seek change. As of now the campus is divided, and for us to unite once again we need to keep things like this in the light, not the dark, and look for solutions, not cover-ups.