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Inclusive inaction

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Editor's note: New Times made changes to the original version of the column, which indicated that Cal Poly had not released a public statement regarding President Donald Trump's Sept. 5 decision about DACA. Cal Poly did in fact issue a statement to its campus community via email. Changes marked with an asterisk were made on Sept. 7 at 3:33 p.m.

Are you ready for a little game? It's one you used to watch on TV as a kid. It'll be fun. I promise. You can even sing it!

One of these things is not like the others: Cuesta College, UC Santa Barbara, CSU Monterey Bay, and Cal Poly. Can you guess which one?

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Cuesta College denounced President Donald Undoing-Everything-My-Predecessor-Did-Because-I-Have-No-Other-Agenda Trump's Sept. 5 decision to end the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which enabled undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children—known as "Dreamers"—to live, work, and get an education without the threat of being deported. The executive order signed by, you guessed it, awesome-sauce former President Barack Obama, protected 800,000 immigrant youth.

"They are in school, and working hard. They are our friends, our classmates, our co-workers and neighbors. They are Cuesta College students," Cuesta Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services Mark Sanchez said in a statement.

Well said, Sanchez.

Dreamers also got a shout out of support from UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang, who said, "We are proud of the dedication, perseverance, and remarkable achievements of our DACA students." Yang also said the university planned to advocate for students when conferring with elected representatives in Washington, D.C., who are now tasked with the insurmountable: Come up with bipartisan legislation that does what Trump just said he's undoing.

CSU Monterey Bay plastered its opinion on the university's home page, "CSUMB welcomes their DACA students with a safe campus environment," alongside a link to Undocumented Student Support Services. That department's page has a banner that reads "UNAFRAID & UNAPOLOGETIC."

Can you figure out the odd educational institution in the bunch yet?

Fine! I'll tell you: It's definitely Cal Poly.

On Sept. 5, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong tweeted that he was "Proud to be a smoke free campus!" *Don't worry, though, he re-tweeted other people's support for Dreamers on that same day. 

You know what he didn't do that day? Create an original 140-character statement that expressed either his or the university's opinion on the policy reversal.

*But you know what New Times saw just hours after this column was sent to press on Sept. 6? Armstrong sent out a tweet expressing Cal Poly's support for its DACA students on the late afternoon of Sept. 6. Do you know what we found out after the papers hit the streets on Sept. 7? According to Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier, who reached out to New Times that morning, Armstrong sent out "a note to campus" on Sept. 5  at 4:16 p.m. "expressing disappointment with the White House's DACA decision."

Lazier wouldn't say why the statement wasn't published on the website, which is what other local educational institutions did, or sent out to the greater community (alumni who work for New Times did not receive an email with the statement). But he did say that the university was happy to send the statement to anyone who asked. New Times was wrong in its characterization of how Cal Poly handled the situation and I will happily take the blame. I'm sorry.

I guess I could say that the university should have made its opinion on the issue more public. Armstrong has marched in support of undocumented students in the past. Why not plaster support for Dreamers in a place the public—prospective students— turns to for information? I guess the the university could say (and Lazier basically did say) that New Times should have done better and is picking on campus leadership.

He's right on both counts. And it's partly because the university can be extremely cagey with the information it allows out into the public and the questions from media outlets like this one that it chooses to respond to.

The university hired a new vice president and chief officer for diversity and inclusion, Josephine "Jozi" De Leon, and they still won't let New Times interview her. She started on July 10, and a Cal Poly spokesperson told our Staff Writer Peter Johnson in August that De Leon still needs time to get up to speed and "develop her vision."

But she spent nine years as the vice president of equity and inclusion at the University of New Mexico! In my not-at-all humble opinion, she can totally speak as an expert on what Cal Poly needs to do with its "diversity and inclusion" policies. She can start by talking about the 174-point "diversity and inclusion action plan" Cal Poly released last year. How's that bit of buzzword-filled nonsense going, guys?

How long does it take to get up to speed? Six months? That's how long Congress has to pass legislation before the new Deporter-In-Chief will begin enforcement actions against Dreamers. If I were them, I wouldn't hold my breath, because the crew of misfits we've elected are only good at talking shit about each other. Team America—the Senate, House of Representatives, and president—doesn't know how to make our government function. It's about as efficient as Paso Robles' and Atascadero's city councils, which can't seem to make any decisions in a timely manner.

The latest and greatest waffling comes after the cities already signed onto a contract with every other municipality in the county and the county itself to pay for and build a badly needed animal shelter.

So why are Paso and Atascadero choosing now to consider pulling out of the project? "We're not satisfied at all with the costs," Atascadero City Councilmember Charles Bourbeau told New Times.

But, when the council voted to participate in the contract in February, it was cool?

The steep $14.8 million price tag is old news at this point. It wasn't a hidden cost. Now, Atascadero and Paso Robles are both feeling skittish and considering creating a facility all on their own. A North County shelter could provide a "lower level of service" than the county shelter, and restrict the type of animals that could be accepted!

So take dogs and not cats, maybe? Even though feral cats are a major issue in North County? Where do the other animals go? The county shelter?

If the cities decide to go rogue, it sends the county and its five other cities back to the drawing board, sinking even more planning costs into a project that's already been stretched out over the years due to waffling over whether to retrofit the old facility or build a new one.

Team America needs a new one, too. I say we tear the whole thing down and start over again. Maybe we can borrow Cal Poly's 174-point plan. We'll need some buzz words to get things right on this next go-round. Δ

The Shredder prides himself on diversity and inclusion, and never grants immunity. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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