Education

New blackface incident hits Cal Poly; president asks state to investigate Greeks

Cal Poly announced it has asked the state attorney general to investigate recent incidents of racism among the university's greek community — on the same day the president went on video to condemn another case of blackface by a campus fraternity.

"I am disgusted to share with you today that we have learned of a new incident of an image taken by a single individual and posted on a private Snapchat amongst a fraternity group that appears to ridicule the (April 7) blackface incident by imitating it," President Jeffrey Armstrong said on the video.

The president said fraternity members alerted the university to the picture.

This new incident comes with tensions already high at Cal Poly as waves of outrage hit the campus following incidents of racist behavior by two fraternities, including one now former member posing for a photo in blackface, and the posting of hateful fliers and graffiti in university buildings.

Last week, alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at an on-campus "fake news" panel and also appeared to mock the blackface incident on his Instagram account.

"This incident, the entire Lambda Chi incident, as well as reports from several other fraternities and sororities, has been turned over to the California Attorney General for investigation," Armstrong said.

In an email clarifying Armstrong's remarks, university spokesman Matt Lazier wrote that Cal Poly reviewed the incidents "through the lens of California State University Executive Order 1097."

EO 1097 is the CSU-wide policy addressing discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Lazier wrote that Cal Poly "determined that a formal investigation is warranted."

"In order to ensure a thorough, fair and neutral process, we have retained the California Attorney General's Office to conduct the investigation," Lazier wrote. "The Attorney General’s Office will also investigate whether Cal Poly’s fraternities and sororities have violated the CSU’s non-discrimination policy for student activities."

The results of that investigation will be published once it is complete, Armstrong said.

The attorney general's office responded to a Tribune request for comment by issuing a statement that "we do not comment on client matters" and referring all further inquiries to the CSU.

The president voiced his outrage at the latest incident and sought to assure minority students that there is a place for them at Cal Poly.

"This kind of behavior has no place at Cal Poly. It has no home at our house," he said.

Armstrong also urged everyone to attend Friday's forum aimed at discussing racism on campus, scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934; @andrewsheeler


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