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A history major should know better 

I was deeply saddened to learn that the person who is alleged to have made a death threat against SLO Solidarity leader Matt Klepfer is a history major. I would like to reaffirm what you already know: The hatred expressed in this death threat is entirely contrary to the values of the Cal Poly history department. The faculty, students, and staff of the history department stand united in our commitment to tolerance and diversity. Many of us have marched with SLO Solidarity to demonstrate this commitment and to show that there is no place for hatred at our university.

Our history curriculum is explicitly designed to promote an understanding of both the incredible diversity that characterizes human societies and cultures, both past and present. Our curriculum also encourages students to be sensitive to that diversity. The overview of the history major reads in part: “History deepens our understanding of other peoples and cultures. All courses offered in the history department seek to examine the issues of race, gender, class, and cultural diversity. The study of history and its methods prepare students for a wide range of careers while also sensitizing them to the complexity and diversity of the past and present.”

I helped the accused student transfer into the history major. What I wanted for him is the same thing that I want for every history major, including first-time freshmen, community college transfers, and internal transfers like him. I wanted him to learn about the human historical experience in all its richness and diversity. I wanted him to learn how to respect that diversity. 

I am sad, because (as a very wise person said to me) the things that history majors study mean that they should know better. And 99.5 percent of them do know better. But I won’t rest until that figure is 100 percent. 

Stay strong. Stay safe. Love is stronger than hate.

-- Lewis Call - associate professor and chair, Cal Poly history department

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