As a mostly commuter campus, this campus has been described as quiet.

Dissent does not feel particularly discouraged, but a passivity still reigns in the air.

Even in fraught political times, things common at other campuses such as protests, movements and walkouts are rare at Cal Poly Pomona.

From President Trump’s removal of Temporary Protected Status to Haitians, Nicaraguans and Salvadorans, to the ongoing DACA situation and the Muslim travel ban, there have been many chances for students and campus organizations to be active and take a stand.

(Valerie Mancia | The Poly Post)

Students for Quality Education protested in Sacramento against the CSU tuition hike recently but if there were any major protests on campus in the past academic year, they were certainly not major.

Cultural centers on campus should be natural places where students could get involved to make a difference but recently, they seem to be focusing more on cultural celebrations than on making a difference when there are so many issues around us.

Activism in the traditional sense may be a rare breed at CPP but there are some voices making themselves known for other kinds of activism.

African American Student Center coordinator Tashiana Bryant defined activism in an interesting way.

“Activism is what you feel like your service is and how you’re building your community,” Bryant said. “My service is my activism. Me working with my community is activism.”

She said educating, informing and holding those in power accountable is activism too.

Bryant runs the Diversity Ambassadors program, which seeks to teach a diverse group of students about the Civil Rights Movement and the Underground Railroad by visiting historic sites across the country.

“Being a part of Diversity Ambassadors has given us the opportunity to learn more about our history and that experience makes you want to go and reach out to others that may not have the same exposure, so it’s kind of a cycle of trying to help people and educate them,” said Orlanda Depaz, a student who participated in this year’s DA program.

Karl Terrence Molina, a social justice leader at the Asian Pacific Islander Center echoed this idea of teaching people about their heritage as a form of activism.

“Activism means being active in your community and showing others a culture that they might not be aware of,” Molina said.

“The cultural aspect is really important. People are really focused on school and it’s good to not forget where a lot of people are coming from.”

Bryant explained that the cultural centers were originally created for activism.

“The whole reason why these cultural centers are here is because of activism and coalition-building between students and students of color,” Bryant said. “They were the ones that came together and said, ‘we need to learn about our history but also teach others about who we are as well and also come together so we can have a sense of belonging.’”

According to Mexican American Student Association President Jimena Alamillo, part of being an activist is finding one’s voice and the courage to speak out.

“Activism is fighting for what we believe in,” Alamillo said. “Especially in the times we’re living in, we encourage people to find their voice.”

Programs like DA are a great step, but the other cultural centers and organizations need to step up and do more.

Putting on cultural celebrations is nice but in the current climate it is not enough.

Alamillo said feeling intimidated to act could be a reason some people might not feel inclined to become activists, but she encouraged students to do so.

“Don’t be afraid, go for it. You never know what might come from speaking your voice,” Alamillo said. “You can do a lot and change a lot of things by just standing up and saying what you want to say.”

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