Cal Poly president apologizes for blackface incident; protests planned Friday

Posted at 7:16 PM, Apr 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-12 22:16:44-04

Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong hosted a student forum Thursday evening to address student concerns following the recent blackface incident at Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

A photo of a fraternity member with his face painted black, taken at a brotherhood event over the weekend, has sparked outrage in the campus community.

Hundreds of students filled the Performing Arts Center on Thursday to address Armstrong and other campus leaders. Armstrong also addressed them.

"We’re sorry that this happened and I wished we had done some things differently to have prevented this from happening," he said.

Armstrong also said it’s unlikely the student from the blackface photo will be expelled since his act will presumably fall under protected free speech.

Those who spoke expressed concern about the diversity on campus and the university allowing Milo Yiannopoulos to speak again.

On Tuesday, Cal Poly’s Interfraternity Council released new guidelines, including a zero tolerance policy towards racism, sexism, homophobic or culturally inappropriate behaviors.

On Wednesday, Lambda Chi Alpha suspended the Cal Poly chapter until April 29, according to a statement. The organization said it has begun its own inquiry, and the two top chapter leaders and two other members have resigned from the fraternity. National spokesman Taylor Grayson said one of the resigning members was the student pictured in blackface.

On Thursday, the Interfraternity Council Executive Board announced chapter presidents had voted to place all Cal Poly IFC chapters on probation until further notice. Chapters will not host recruitment events, philanthropic events or booths at Open House.

The Black Student Union said in a statement that the blackface incident "undermines the attempts by student organizations to increase the numbers of students of color and instead perpetuates the cumulative, hostile environment for marginalized students."

Protests are planned in the coming days, including one tomorrow at 8 a.m. at the rec center co-sponsored by Cal Poly Democrats, Cal Poly MEXA, Cal Poly Queer Student Union, Cal Poly Students for Quality Education, Comparative Ethnic Studies Student Association and Triota Feminist Activist Community.

We’ll have a full report tonight on KSBY News at 10 on The CW and 11 on KSBY.

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