Showcase bridges liberal arts and polytechnic

The College of Liberal Arts held a barbecue in honor of dean Linda Halisky on Dexter Lawn as part of liberal arts week — photo by Nha Ha

Last week the Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts (CLA), in partnership with CLA Ambassadors, hosted Liberal Arts week. This four-day annual event held on campus aims to promote awareness and interest in Liberal Arts among students and staff as well as celebrate its contributions at Cal Poly.

“I want students to know there are more than just English, history or journalism majors,” CLA dean Linda Halisky said. “They happen to be at a place where there can be all this intersection of ways of thinking, and this is a tremendous value to you no matter your major.”

Part of the reason for the week is a desire to bridge the gap between liberal arts and a polytechnic curriculum.

“It is important for polytechnic students to take a lot from us as well as for us to take a significant enough amount of courses in the sciences and technologies so we can understand that world,” she said. “I’m not interested in our CLA students taking ‘calculus for poets’ or ‘calculus for dummies’ — we can do the real deal. We need minds that can work well with folks on the polytechnic side of the campus.”

The week started off Feb. 13 with a pancake dinner and information night in Trinity Hall hosted by the CLA Ambassadors, followed by a performance from improv comedy group Smile and Nod.

Tuesday’s events included two lectures hosted by Cal Poly professors: “Occupy 2012: Where is the Movement” and “Graphic Memoirs.”

On Wednesday, the CLA Ambassadors hosted a barbecue on Dexter Lawn for students in honor of Halisky, who said she was thrilled and touched by the event.

In order to receive free hot dogs and chips, students needed to answer a question correctly about the CLA.

“We want to promote the CLA today and interact with everyone stopping by who may not know it is Liberal Arts Week,” associate dean for student success Penny Bennett said at the event.

Bennett, along with the CLA Ambassadors, was on site providing information regarding the college to anyone who was interested.

CLA Ambassadors vice president and history junior Elise Erb said the week was a way to “raise awareness about what the CLA has to offer such as recruitment for the CLA Ambassadors.”

Wednesday concluded with a lecture from ethnic studies professor Donald Ryujin about “Why Romance Fails.”

The first of two final events of the week on Thursday was the CLA Club and Minor Showcase in the University Union Plaza. Many CLA clubs and advisors were available to talk about the variety of clubs and minors associated with the CLA.

Theatre club was in the plaza promoting Minervana — a showcase of women’s achievements in art throughout history and a celebration of women’s empowerment around the world that takes place March 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m in Chumash Auditorium.

“The point of  us being out here today is to talk to people about our club and get people interested in the performances and events we are involved in such as Minervana,” theatre club member and theatre arts junior Chris Hamilton said.

The final event of the week was Phi Alpha Theta’s guest, Museum of Tolerance Holocaust speaker and Holocaust survivor Albert Rosa in Chumash Auditorium.

Rosa said he grew up in Greece with his parents, five brothers and two sisters and was in the seventh grade when the Germans invaded and occupied Greece. Being Jewish, Rosa and his family were sent to live in a Nazi-monitored ghetto which he said was not bad at first, but conditions became worse and many around him started to die.

He would eventually be sent on a train to a concentration camp in Auschwitz, Germany, where his parents, grandparents and youngest members of the family would be gassed, and he would witness his brother hanged and his sister beaten to death.

In regards to his Jewish heritage Rosa said: “I’m Jewish and very proud of it. Always you should be proud of where you come from and never forget it”.

Hundreds of people filled the seats as well as the floor of Chumash Auditorium to hear Rosa’s story. Among the attendees were students, professors, faculty (including Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong) and other members of the San Luis Obispo community.

With Halisky retiring at the end of the school year, she said she maintains high hopes for not only the CLA but all of Cal Poly.

“Cal Poly is a comprehensive polytechnic university meaning it combines colleges of arts and sciences — sciences being already pre-integrated into the polytechnic mission,” she said. “It really is the caliber of the programs in Cal Poly that make us so impressive as a polytechnic.”