Racist fliers, graffiti posted at Cal Poly after protests over blackface

One of the racist flyers found at Cal Poly equates racial differences to different species of gorillas.
One of the racist flyers found at Cal Poly equates racial differences to different species of gorillas. Neal MacDougall Facebook page

A new round of hate hit Cal Poly this week after a professor posted on Facebook that he found racist fliers, graffiti and vandalism posted in university buildings Tuesday morning — the latest in a string of racist and racially insensitive incidents to occur on campus in recent weeks.

Professor Neal MacDougall — who teaches in the agribusiness department of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Service — posted a collection of seven photos.

They depict slashed posters and signs, as well as multiple fliers that incorrectly claim that black people are a different species than Caucasian people. One photo depicts the racist slur "n-----" written on a bathroom stall.

Commenters on the post said the fliers were found in the English and Faculty Offices East buildings.

The vandalism, graffiti and fliers come just a week after the posting online of several photos depicting one fraternity member wearing blackface and several other fraternity members appeared in photos engaging in racial and cultural appropriation in a manner derogatory toward Hispanic and Latino people.

MacDougall told The Tribune that he learned of the bathroom graffiti when he noticed a university police officer standing outside the bathroom in his building. He said another professor later provided him with a photo of the graffiti, which university staff removed.

MacDougall believes that whoever was behind the vandalism and fliers likely entered the building early Tuesday morning.

MacDougall said he called the police to report the fliers, but he later was told an officer wasn't coming and to just take the fliers down.

In an interview on public radio station KCBX, MacDougall said he didn't believe the vandalism or fliers targeted him specifically.

"I was targeted as someone who has outwardly supported undocumented students and supported inclusion," he said.

He called himself a bit of a "fish out of water" in the College of Agriculture for his progressive viewpoints.

"I think it's really the slashing of the sign that disturbed me; that's fundamentally a violent act," he said.

MacDougall told The Tribune he was motivated to post the images on Facebook, and later to make the post publicly viewable, because he felt it was the only way to get the word out. He said Cal Poly seems to be more concerned about maintaining its U.S. News & World Report ranking and selling merchandise than with reckoning with on-campus racism.

"I really think that they're trying to protect the brand," he said. "Everything seems to be soft-pedaled."

Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier wrote in an email that "the university is seeing many postings around campus, expressing a wide variety of viewpoints — some of which include hateful and racist comments."

Lazier called them the "desperate acts of a few who aim to spread hate and divide our community" and wrote that Cal Poly "abhors and denounces hateful and racist speech and actions."

Lazier said that any actions found to contain threats of violence, criminal or severe harassment or defamation, "will result in discipline from the university up to and including expulsion/termination, and potentially criminal charges if criminal laws have been violated."

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler
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