New Cal Poly fraternity council guidelines issued, members resign after blackface incident

Posted at 6:47 PM, Apr 11, 2018

Changes are being discussed at Cal Poly after a photo of a fraternity member in blackface spread across social media, and now a council that governs all fraternities at the university in San Luis Obispo has issued some new guidelines. 

The photo was taken at a brotherhood event at the Phi-Sigma chapter of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity over the weekend.

The fraternity apologized, saying the student painted his face to represent the color of the team to which he was assigned at the party.

Cal Poly suspended the fraternity and the university says the incident remains under investigation.

On Tuesday, the Interfraternity Council released new guidelines, including:

  • A zero tolerance policy towards racism, sexism, homophobic or culturally inappropriate behaviors
  • Creating a VP of Cultural Diversity & Inclusion position on IFC whose role will include facilitating the immersion of diverse cultures in order to foster a more accepting and welcoming culture in Cal Poly Greek Life
  • Requiring all chapters to implement non-discrimination policies that focus on holding individual members accountable for their cultural insensitivity and plans to educate them 
  • Creating inclusivity training specific to IFC recruitment that focuses on an action plan on how to better communicate with minority groups and further diversify individual chapters
  • Suspension of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity from the IFC indefinitely 

Some students are calling on the university to do more. 

"I don’t know how you can paint your face black and say it was a party theme," said Norris Cooper, Cal Poly student. "It doesn’t feel like diversity and inclusion is important (here). I’d like to see diversity. I would like to see people that look like me on campus."

"More education, more awareness about what diversity actually means to people and how people can really be affected about it," said Matt Bowers, Cal Poly student. 

University officials said they could not comment on the new IFC guidelines on Wednesday since the incident investigation is continuing.

Also on Wednesday, the national Lambda Chi Alpha Board of Directors announced it is forming an Alumni Control Board which will conduct a membership review and discipline members of the fraternity for any offenses. Penalties could reportedly include expulsion, suspension or probation. Chapter members will also have to attend educational sessions on diversity, inclusion, bystander intervention, and cross-cultural training, as well as sign a behavior contract.

According to fraternity officials, the current officers of the Phi-Sigma chapter of the fraternity at Cal Poly have resigned their offices and two other chapter members have left the fraternity altogether.

Meanwhile, a group of students is organizing a protest on campus at the same time the university is welcoming incoming prospective freshmen to Open House.

"We want to press Cal Poly to do something," said James Abundis, Cal Poly student. "I want prospective students to be like, ‘hey mom and dad, I don’t know if I’m going to feel safe here at Cal Poly after what’s happened."

The protest is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on Friday, April 13.

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