Cal Poly to Present ‘Change the Subject’ Documentary, Discussion on Feb. 4

Promotional image for "Change the Subject" documentarySAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly Kennedy Library invites community members to a screening of the documentary “Change the Subject” from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 4, in the Spanos Theatre at Cal Poly. Dartmouth College student activists and librarian Jill Baron, who are featured in the documentary, will hold a panel discussion after the screening.

The film tells the story of Dartmouth College students who were committed to advancing the rights and dignity of undocumented people by challenging the use of the term “illegal aliens” as a subject heading in the library catalog. This term became a flashpoint in the immigration debate on Capitol Hill, demonstrating the ways language can be weaponized to divide and dehumanize people. It also marks the first time in U.S. history that Congress intervened to prevent routine updating of terms by the Library of Congress.

The students’ advocacy took them from Dartmouth’s Baker-Berry Library to the halls of Congress, demonstrating how an instance of campus activism entered the national spotlight and how a cataloging term became a flashpoint in the immigration debate on Capitol Hill.

The documentary earned official selection entry status into the Maine International Film Festival and the Boston Latino International Film Festival.

The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required. Parking in the Grand Avenue parking structure costs $10 and can be purchased from parking attendants at the lot entrance. 

The screening and discussion are sponsored by Cal Poly’s Kennedy Library, Academic Affairs, Office of University Diversity and Inclusion, Chicanx Latinx Faculty Staff Association, School of Education and Career Services Diversity Funding Committee, as well as Cuesta College’s Office of Equity. Additional collaboration was provided by the Dartmouth College Baker-Berry Library, Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success, Cal Poly Dream Center, Cuesta College Monarch Center, and Allan Hancock Aim to Dream Center.

For more information, contact Catherine J. Trujillo, curator of Creative Works at Kennedy Library, at 805-756-6395. To watch a trailer of “Change the Subject,” visit

Contact: Catherine J. Trujillo

Jan. 15, 2020

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