California Polytechnic State University Fraternity Chapter Faces Backlash Over Blackface Photo

Illustration for article titled California Polytechnic State University Fraternity Chapter Faces Backlash Over Blackface Photo
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These frats are really a piece of work. You’d think by now, with the number of stories featured and the number of college students disciplined for racist, stereotypical parties and/or blackface, someone somewhere would get the memo...but nah.


Instead, members of California Polytechnic State University’s Lambda Chi Alpha are facing intense scrutiny after a particularly problematic photo has started circulating on social media online during the school’s annual Polycultural Weekend, which, ironically, is meant to get prospective students acquainted with the university’s social and academic culture.

Prospective students definitely got a preview alright.

According to KCBX, one of the photos in question showed a single member showing all of his teeth in a broad smile, his entire face covered in black paint. Students at the school immediately fired back, calling the photo - which spread on Snapchat and Facebook - “unacceptable” and “racist.”

Logan Boersma, the president of Cal Poly’s Lamda Chi Alpha chapter said that the event that brought out all the insensitivities was a “brotherhood event” on Saturday that was closed to the public. The event featured six teams based on “families” that were all dressed in different colors and costumes. Apparently, that’s why one student’s face was painted black.

“We had a brotherhood event, big bros and little bros and families,” Boersma told student newspaper the Mustang News.“Each of us had a team based on your family, you can pick whatever theme you want. One color chosen was black and that is why the person’s face was colored.”

“I absolutely feel terrible that [the black face paint] was construed like that,” he added to KCBX. ”And I am fully aware that it can be insensitive.”


As students expressed outrage about that photo, another photo came to light showing members of the Lambda Chi Alpha dressed in stereotypical urban wear, complete with fake prison tattoos and sagging pants and also with the caption “She want a ganster, not a pretty boy.”

On Sunday, the frat sent out a statement which read:

We are extremely sorry and embarrassed for failing to recognize the racial impacts this brought forth. The representation depicted in the photograph was absolutely unacceptable by our standards as it had a negative influence on surrounding members of our community. Although it was not our intention to stir up racial tension, we understand the negative impact this picture had on our peers...We are currently working with our local community to amend the discrepancies this photo has caused.


A Cal Poly spokesperson responded to the fallout, saying that the university “ “finds deplorable any acts that would seek to hurt, offend, intimidate, or frighten any member of our campus community. The university is aware of the posting about the fraternity event and is investigating the matter at this time.”

By Monday, the fraternity was placed on interim suspension - which requires the frat to suspend all functions, events, and activities - as the university continues its investigation.

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi



We are currently working with our local community to amend the discrepancies this photo has caused.

What the hell does that say or even mean? Discrepancies? Wut?

Calpoly is populated by farm kids and other yahoos from middle earth, uh, the central coast. However there is good firestone bbq and the weather and beaches are the best. There’s some hippies there and blinding whiteness of seemingly progressive whites.. until you talk to them and realize..hey, these farm kids are... racist and not progressive at all. The kick all the Mexicans a little south to work the fields, and the two black folk in school and town are happy to be very, very, quiet.