Racially Insenstive Photos Posted by Fraternity Members at California Polytechnic State University

Fraternity students at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, posted racially insensitive photographs on social media. The photos included a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity dressed in blackface and other members dressed in what was referred to as “gangsta” attire.

An emergency town hall meeting was called in response to the social media posts. Hundreds of students packed a classroom to express their concern. Some students were angry that university president Jeffrey Armstrong did not attend the town hall meeting.

Three days later, President Armstrong held a meeting in Harman Hall in the Performing Arts Center on campus that was attended by nearly 1,000 students. President Armstrong stated “I am very, very sorry for what this has caused so many of you. Not just our students, but our faculty, our staff, alumni, many people. Many people have said, ‘I’m embarrassed, and this is not the Cal Poly that I know.’ And this is not the Cal Poly that we want it to be.”

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  1. I graduated from Cal Poly 36 years ago, and don’t recall anything similar to this incident. I included the Black Allumni’s response:

    Dear Cal Poly Black Alumni Chapter Community,

    Jeff Armstrong, President of Cal Poly, wrote a letter in response to the protests, boycotts, etc. at Cal Poly surrounding the Lambda Chi incident and it is attached below.

    Things have been happening at warp speed, please forgive us if our communications are not the most consistent or reliable. We apologize for the mix up on last night’s conference call. We got our wires crossed. We are going to work out the details and invite those that expressed interest to a future conference call. Again, we apologize.

    While we stand in complete solidarity with the BSU, NSBE, and the other campus organizations condemning Lambda Chi behavior, we at the Black Alumni Chapter having been working with Jeff and his office for over four years to increase diversity on campus and those activities and initiatives continue. In fact, those efforts have taken on a new sense of urgency.

    Fortune Schools is still bringing about 150 5th graders to Cal Poly each year and many undergrads and alumni have participated each year. Jeff worked with Margaret Fortune to make this happen. We lobbied Jeff to establish several scholarships for AA students including the McCoy scholarship which is responsible for 12 Black students on campus (an 8% increase in AA students on campus). Many of the programs and initiatives Jeff outlined the Black Alumni Chapter has been a part of.

    To be clear, as diversity increases on Cal Poly’s campus, there are going to be those that see that as a negative, not a positive. So, be prepared for MORE resistance and intolerance, not less. Change is brought about incrementally and with some struggle. We need to have a long-term commitment to this process. It will be hard, it may get ugly at times, but everything that is worthwhile takes consistent effort.

    In solidarity,
    Cal Poly Black Alumni Chapter
    Board of Directors

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