A fraternity at California Polytechnic State University was sanctioned by its national organization on Tuesday after students dressed as gang members, including one in blackface, during the college’s annual multicultural event over the weekend.
Photos first surfaced online on Sunday showing white students from Lambda Chi Alpha outside their fraternity house wearing baggy jeans, gold necklaces and bandannas as they flashed fake gang signs.
But it was another photo — of a fraternity brother in blackface — that drew swift outrage from both students and officials at the university in San Luis Obispo, Calif., leading to an almost immediate suspension of the chapter, protests on campus and a standing room only meeting with students to address racism at the college.
On Monday, the college placed Lambda Chi Alpha on interim suspension while it investigated. On Tuesday, the national fraternity office said it had placed the chapter on “limited operations,” sanctions that restrict it from participating in formal activities.
Those actions have become part of the latest flash point at the Central California university over racist or insensitive incidents on the campus in recent years. At the student meeting on Monday night, several black students said the photos offered proof that they were not welcome on their own campus.
The fraternity photos and the anger that followed have laid bare uncomfortable truths about a university that has long struggled with attracting a diverse student body.
College leaders pledged to create a more welcoming campus for current and prospective student after two events in 2015: a death threat made against the leader of a student advocacy group and a “Free Speech Wall” set up by a college Republican group that included anti-Muslim remarks.
But Cal Poly’s efforts have not altered the makeup of its students.
About 57 percent of its 22,000 students are white, and just 166 students are black, according to the university’s latest enrollment numbers.
Cal Poly held its annual PolyCultural Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, where student cultural organizations host prospective students and show them around the university, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The university’s dean of students, Kathleen McMahon, said on Monday that Cal Poly remained committed to improving the campus for all students.
“Cal Poly is focused on enhancing the diversity of our campus and providing an environment that is welcoming to all who would study, work or visit here,” Ms. McMahon said in a statement. “Racism and hate are unwelcome here, in any form.”
Members of the university’s Black Student Union, which helped organize the student meeting on Monday, demanded that Cal Poly administrators “publicly state their actions towards ending these frequently occurring, offensive events and maintain public records of their progress in these endeavors.”
“As a predominantly white institution with an overwhelming representation of those in the top 10 percent of the income bracket, Cal Poly has shown time and time again that it does not hold itself, its Greek organizations or its students accountable for their actions,” the student group said in a statement.
via New York Times https://nyti.ms/2gVZ2VB
April 11, 2018 at 01:15PM