CPE Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives

The brutal method of George Floyd’s murder laid bare the dehumanization of racism. The vulnerability felt by all watching a grown man gasp for air shattered the false sense of safety that is provided by the academy. We feel exposed and afraid. How do we, the CPE program, educate students about technology and design while Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and others are executed? We, the faculty and staff of the CPE program, recognize these murders are the outcome of systemic oppression in our society.

Dare we dream of a world without racism? We choose to rise to this call.

We make a commitment to pursue justice and equity for those who have been most harmed by oppression: Black Lives. We will use the best tool at our hands – the ability to educate young people and ourselves of the possibility of a world without racism. We will teach that it is through equity we will collectively find success. Towards this goal, we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. We commit to the following three actions.

1. Ethnic and Gender Studies

We hear computer engineering students sharing their experiences in ethnic studies, womxn and gender studies, and science, technology & society. They tell us that after having taken classes in these areas, they cannot see how someone can be an engineer without them. We commit to integrating an ethnic and gender studies requirement into the computer engineering curriculum and we will do this through a collaborative student-faculty group.

2. Personal and Collective Development

We commit to growing capacity for personal and collective development to create critical consciousness for justice-based change. We will strive to develop authentic relationships within and across departments that will spark creative curricular ideas and help to dismantle the embedded structures and cultural norms that are oppressive, inequitable, and isolating for students, faculty, and staff. We will co-create a newly imagined culture that fosters belonging, identity, inclusivity, diversity, student retention, empathy, well-being, and critical consciousness.

As a result, CPE students will feel a sense of belonging and competence in the program, and a strong resonance between their emerging CPE identities and their personal values and goals. CPE graduates who are confident in themselves and secure in their professional identities will enter industry prepared to work collaboratively and to innovate in ways that serve pressing societal needs. Students, faculty, and staff will have the ability and confidence to transform their espoused beliefs into enacted beliefs.

3. A New Vision

The Computer Engineering Program is partway through its transition to becoming a Department. During the past seven months, we have been co-creating a new vision for Computer Engineering at Cal Poly. Computer Engineering holds dear and commits to the following vision of culture, community, collaboration, and support:

The Computer Engineering Department is a place that supports diversity in race, gender, sexuality, ability, class, and other social identities (in all their combinations) in a manner that transcends current institutional structures. 

The Computer Engineering Department is a place in which all find community, and where there are support structures that connect students with their peers, that provide mentoring between faculty and students, and that promote collaborative work between faculty. The Computer Engineering Department is a place where each of us can say, “I belong here.”

The Computer Engineering Department’s faculty follows a distributed leadership model where all members are leaders in their own way. Faculty trusts in and actively backs each other as leaders. The department values the interdisciplinarity of faculty within and beyond CPE.  

The Computer Engineering Department is a place where if one encounters an unjust barrier, it is the system that yields. We acknowledge the immense cultural wealth that people bring with them to the Computer Engineering Department and we strive to act in a manner to ensure that wealth is valued and celebrated. 

The Computer Engineering Department is a place where all understand and value Computer Engineering being more than a sum of the traditional fields from which it grew. The Computer Engineering Department is a place that has insight into societal needs and is agile to adapt to address those needs from a critical theory orientation. 

The Computer Engineering Department is a place from which industry continues to seek new hires; they value our students’ technical expertise, and, of equal importance, seek out our students because of their diversity in body and voice, because of their ability to negotiate complexity and ambiguity, and because of their capacity, agency, and inclination for change. Our graduates pursue graduate studies and work in nonprofits and educational organizations in increasingly greater numbers. 

The Computer Engineering Faculty and Staff
June 12, 2020