By Lauren Chavez and Anel Ceballos-Caldera, Nov. 2, 2021

Students Affairs administrators announced on Oct. 25 the 2021-2022 Cultural and Identity Spaces Listening Tour debuting later this month, allowing Cal Poly Pomona community members to voice their thoughts and concerns about the university and its cultural centers.

The tour, beginning Nov. 19, will include separate sessions for students, faculty and staff hosted by an external consultant. The sessions will be held both via Zoom and in person and revolve around participant questions and comments regarding the campus’ cultural and identity centers.

According to the Director of the Office of Student Life & Cultural Centers Tari Hunter, the listening tour will help identify students’ needs to help them succeed at CPP.

“It’s an opportunity to reach out to the campus community to gain important feedback to inform important decisions that we make related to departmental structures, programs and services that we offer, and it’s really an opportunity to get feedback from the campus community as a whole, inclusive of students, staff and faculty,” said Hunter.

According to Dean of Students Johnathan Grady, the cultural and identity spaces have provided resources over the years to support students of color, first-generation students, students who have multiple identities and more. Now, administrators hope to determine if there are any additional needs.

“It’s very important for us to be student-centered to hear directly from students their thoughts, their concerns, their hopes, so that we can then take all of that information to really work with the community around elevating services and resources,” said Grady.

The cultural centers and services highlighted in the announcement included:

– African American Student Center

– Asian & Pacific Islander Student Center

– César E. Chávez Center for Higher Education

– Native American Student Center

– Pride Center

– Womxn’s Resource Center

– Undocumented Students Services

– Men of Color Success Initiatives

– Black Achievement Success & Engagement in Science Program

Grady emphasized how the listening tour was developed after realizing that more students will be on campus in the spring and may have different needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students have grown accustomed to attending classes online and do not have to worry about things like financial hardships and inequities.

“I think it’s important for a school to be able to respectfully hear out what students have to say,” said criminology student Joanna Betancourt. “If they weren’t open to hearing feedback, that’ll leave a school to never make room for change which can be a direct cause of a student’s experience being unenjoyable.”

Rather than giving out information, administrators want to learn directly from students by creating a safe space for students to engage and speak freely. In addition to the Zoom and in-person sessions, campus community members can also submit comments and concerns anonymously.

CPP hired Cynthia Cortez, an external consultant who specializes in equity, diversity and inclusion, in order to avoid interference from current staff, according to Hunter. Although the cultural centers are involved with the project, they won’t facilitate the sessions due to the fear of influence. The cultural centers are allowed to participate during the staff session.

“A lot of our students that engage with our centers are very connected to the people that work there, and we don’t want it to make them feel like they’re causing that person harm or talking bad because that’s not what it is,” said Hunter. “It’s bringing honest feedback, seeing what they want, what they deserve and what they need.”

All CPP members are encouraged to join.  There is currently no capacity for the virtual event, but it has not been determined what the capacity will be for the in-person session scheduled to be held on the first floor of Student Services Building West in room 1967.

The virtual session will be held through Zoom on Friday Nov. 19, and the in-person session will be held on Friday Dec. 3. For more information or to sign up, interested Cal Poly Pomona members may visit the 2021 Cultural Center Listening Tour’s website.

Feature image by Nicolas Hernandez 

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