Fraternity Hosts "Multicultural" Party With Members In Blackface And Gang Costumes

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
For the brothers of California Polytechnic State University's chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, a fraternity that (supposedly) "prides itself on professionalism," bonding with one another and being involved "with campus and leadership throughout the community" apparently consists of dressing up mockingly like African Americans and painting on blackface.
Photos of the frat's "multicultural" event over the weekend surfaced on Sunday, showing the young men dressed as gang members and flashing contrived gang signs. One member was also sporting blackface. "She want a gangster not a pretty boy" was the caption of one of the photos posted to Instagram.
After the photos began going viral, the chapter was placed on interim suspension, the New York Times reported. In a statement to Refinery29, Taylor Grayson, associate director of communications for the chapter, said Lambda Chi Alpha "prides itself on brotherhood and diversity" and that they "do not condone any behavior that strays from our Core Values (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Service & Stewardship, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage). We certainly do not tolerate hate or racism of any kind."
According to the Lambda Chi Alpha board of directors, not only is the chapter suspended until at least April, 29, 2019, but all of the chapter's officers have resigned their roles and two members have resigned their memberships. The remaining brothers will have to "attend educational sessions regarding diversity and inclusion, bystander intervention, cross cultural training, and sign a behavior contract."
Although this all sounds like the fraternity and the university are taking swift steps to address the racist incident, this is not a totally unheard of occurrence for fraternities at Cal Poly, where just 1% of the student population is Black. In 2013, another fraternity held an unoriginally named "Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos" party, complete with skimpy Native American themed costumes. The university investigated, but found the fraternity didn't violate any rules.
Cal Poly's Black Student Union released a statement following the recent controversy, saying the university is simply not doing enough to get at the root cause of why these incidents keep happening. "As a Predominantly White Institution with an overwhelming representation of those in the top 10% 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 statement reads. "With the lack of support for survivors of sexual assault, the continually low numbers of students, faculty, and staff of color, and the continual excusing of the behavior of Greek organizations, the Cal Poly Black Student Union and its allies incite the university to take a hard stance against these acts that go against the Diversity and Inclusivity statements the University is meant to hold itself and its constituents to."
In a statement to Refinery29, the university's dean of students, Kathleen McMahon, said, "Racism and hate are unwelcome here, in any form. 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.”
As Refinery29 has previously reported, college and university officials oftentimes release strongly worded statements following racist incidents on their campuses, but are hesitant to do more beyond that as to not infringe on the culture of "free speech" that higher education extols.
A previous social headline of this story erroneously identified the Cal Poly fraternity involved in the incident has Lambda Pi Chi. The headline has since been corrected and we regret the error.
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