Cal Poly and student protesters clash over anti-war demo in career fair

Cal Poly is reportedly threatening to sanction student protesters for disrupting a university career fair last month while demonstrating against the defense contractor Raytheon. Meanwhile, the student protesters are slamming the university for attacking free speech, and they are claiming “Raytheon runs Cal Poly.”

On April 19, students calling themselves the “SLO Peace Coalition” entered the career fair with a banner saying “Divest from war. Stop the war machine.” The career fair was a private event, though Cal Poly students were allowed access.

The student protesters sat down with the banner in front of a Raytheon booth and proceeded to sing a song and read a prepared statement. They altered the lyrics of the “God Bless The USA” song, singing lines such as, “You’re killing all across the world for that war money.”

“Raytheon is making a killing off of killing,” the students said while reading the prepared statement in unison. “Raytheon executives, employees and investors are lining their pockets with blood money.”

The demonstrators filmed the protest. After protesting for about 20 minutes, they appeared to leave the career fair by their own choosing, rather than being forced out of the building.

As the camera shut off when the demonstrators walked outside, one protester screamed “Fuck Raytheon!”

About two weeks following the demonstration, student protesters received an email from the Cal Poly Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities alleging they violated the university’s student code of conduct, according to a petition launched by the SLO Peace Coalition. The petition says the student protesters were accused of displaying an unpermitted sign and of substantially disrupting university business, and they were threatened with sanctions.

The petition demands that Cal Poly drop its investigation into the incident. As of Friday morning, the petition has received more than 600 signatures.

“Today, our universities are seeking to punish the speech of peaceful and nonviolent students while allowing the speech of alt-right racists like Milo Yiannopoulos,” the petition states.

Additionally, the petition states campus peace activists are scared the university will threaten their futures, and the student protesters are some of the most outstanding members of the Cal Poly community.

At least one of the students who took part in the demonstration is a frequent protester who routinely demonstrates on the Cal Poly campus. He has done so over the past four years for and against a variety of causes and as part of various liberal protest groups.