Education

Cal Poly frat leaders resign, members face discipline after blackface, gangster photos

Update 9:30 a.m.

Lambda Chi Alpha national representative Tad Lichtenauer confirmed one of the two students to resign their memberships was the fraternity member photographed in blackface during a weekend.

Soon after the photos appeared online, Mustang News identified the student as Kyler Watkins.

Lichtenauer also confirmed that the officers who resigned their positions are still currently members of the fraternity chapter. They resigned their offices, not their memberships.

Additionally, Lichtenauer said the alumni control board will consist of six to 10 alumni, and "some or all" will specifically be alumni from the Cal Poly chapter.

Original story

All of the officers of the Lambda Chi Alpha chapter at Cal Poly have resigned their posts and two other members have left the fraternity altogether after racially insensitive photos were posted on social media this week.

The national fraternity also announced Wednesday that it will form an "alumni control board" to conduct a membership review and discipline members.

The local fraternity brothers came under fire after photos emerged of members in blackface and throwing gang signs while dressed as gangster stereotypes.

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According to a news release, the alumni control board will have "the absolute authority to act in its discretion on behalf of the chapter," including carrying out duties or functions normally undertaken by the chapter and its officers, and has the power to establish guidelines for its own operations.

The board will also conduct a membership review and discipline members for offenses and impose penalties, which could include expulsion, suspension or probation.

After the membership review, remaining members will be required to attend educational sessions regarding diversity and inclusion, bystander intervention and cross-cultural training, as well as sign a behavior contract.

The Lambda Chi Alpha national board of directors at the same time voted to continue the chapter suspension while the membership review is ongoing. Any additional violation of university or Lambda Chi Alpha policies would result in disciplinary action, including closing the chapter for a period of no less than five years.

The fraternity has been placed on temporary suspension by the national headquarters, Cal Poly and the Interfraternity Council, which governs Cal Poly Greek fraternities.

The photos, which appeared to stem from a weekend party, prompted quick outrage among the Cal Poly community, with hundreds gathering to speak out against the incident at an emergency town hall Monday.

Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong sent a note to the university community Monday afternoon regarding the incident, calling the pictures "painful and embarrassing."

"What we do know is the pictures from the event have caused pain to many members of our community," he wrote. "For those who have been hurt and offended, please know that I stand with you."

Armstrong said in a tweet Wednesday that the university is "putting together additional programs, to discuss campus climate honestly and openly, and to talk about how to move forward."

Soon after the photos emerged, a group of people allegedly threw beer and balloons filled with water and paint at the fraternity house, prompting the chapter to hire private security.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928; @kaytyleslie
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