Cal Poly fraternity leaders resign over blackface scandal

The chapter officers of Cal Poly’s Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity have all resigned over the blackface incident that has snowballed into national news story, not just a community controversy.

On Saturday, while Cal Poly was holding its Poly Cultural weekend, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha was photographed in blackface at a fraternity brotherhood event. The blackface photo, coupled with a second photo showing fraternity members dressed as gangsters, have caused outrage in the local community.

Cal Poly administrators responded by launching an investigation and suspending the fraternity. Students responded with protests outside the fraternity house and by voicing anger during a town hall meeting.

On Wednesday, the national board of Lambda Chi Alpha announced in a press release that the Cal Poly chapter’s officers had resigned and that two other members quit the fraternity. The national board placed the local fraternity chapter on probationary suspension until April 2019.

The national directors also ordered the formation of an alumni control board, which will be granted the power to act on behalf of the chapter. The alumni board will conduct a fraternity membership review and impose disciplinary measures when appropriate.

Discipline could include probation, suspension or expulsion of members from the fraternity. Remaining members of the fraternity will partake in inclusion and diversity training and education.

If Cal Poly’s Lambda Chi Alpha commits additional violations of fraternity policy, the chapter will face closure for a period of at least five years, according to the news release.

Following the announcement of punitive measures against the Cal Poly Lambda Chi Alpha chapter, national news outlets, including the New York Times, picked up the story. The New York Times article alluded to multiple “racist or insensitive incidents” at Cal Poly in recent years, including a College Republicans-sponsored “Free Speech Wall” that contained anti-Muslim comments.