Gay Cal Poly student accuses Mike Winn of homophobia
May 27, 2016
Cal Poly professor and former and Nipomo CSD director, Mike Winn, told a queer student and diversity activist that gay marriage is a “grave moral mistake” and that gay people suffer in the afterlife, according to a Title IX discrimination complaint filed against the university. Cal Poly officials then lied to the student, falsely stating that Winn had retired, the complaint alleges. [Tribune]
In Feb. 2015, political science student McKinley “Mick” Bruckner was taking Winn’s communication studies class. Bruckner met with Winn one-on-one in the professor’s office where they discussed a speech the student was preparing.
Bruckner told Winn he was planning on giving a speech on the persecution of gays and lesbians during the Holocaust. Winn reportedly voiced skepticism that gays and lesbians were targets of the Holocaust.
Winn also told Bruckner that his speech would be biased because he is gay and that he has never heard a homosexual man give a good Christian viewpoint on homosexuality. Bruckner said he never told Winn that he was gay. Rather, the professor assumed it.
Eventually, Winn allowed Bruckner to give a speech on the treatment of homosexuals during the Holocaust. But, Bruckner said Winn made him very uncomfortable and made it so that he did not ever want to go to class.
Bruckner first complained about Winn to College of Liberal Arts administrators the day after his meeting in the professor’s office, he said. Administrators said it would be better for them to handle the situation informally than to go through the university’s Title IX process. Bruckner continued to speak with administrators over a period of several months.
On Nov. 19, Bruckner received an email from Penny Bennett, the associate dean for student success in the College of Liberal Arts. The email stated Winn retired from Cal Poly and that was a good thing for the university and students.
The dean’s office essentially told him that Winn was forced to retire, Bruckner said.
But this spring, Bruckner ran into Winn on campus and learned he was still teaching at the university. Bruckner said running into Winn was so anxiety-producing because he had been placed in a weird, sticky position by administrators.
Earlier this month, Bruckner opted to file a formal Title IX complaint. Cal Poly has retained the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate the discrimination charges and has until Aug. 5 to respond to them.
Winn previously served as the president of the Nipomo CSD Board of Directors. In 2013, he applied for the District 4 SLO County supervisor seat that was vacated after the death of Paul Teixeira. Winn has described himself as a Christian and social conservative.
Bruckner said Winn believed homosexuals were immoral and were going to hell. Winn also claimed to be a scholar on homosexuality and said he went to national conferences and debates to defend the moral high ground, Bruckner said.
During the current school year, Bruckner became an active participant and co-coordinator of the SLO Solidarity movement. SLO Solidarity has been demanding the Cal Poly administration do more to promote diversity on campus.