In a campuswide video address May 4, President Jeffrey Armstrong announced the university has learned of another racially insensitive incident. The university is turning this incident, among several other reports of racially insensitive behavior, over to the California Attorney General for investigation.
“I am disgusted to share with you today that we have learned of a new incident of an image taken by a single individual and posted on a private Snapchat amongst a fraternity group that appears to ridicule the blackface incident by imitating it,” Armstrong said in his video address.
Armstrong said the university is taking immediate action. According to university spokesperson Matt Lazier, the university handed the cases over to the Attorney General to “ensure a thorough, fair and neutral process.”
“This incident, the entire Lambda Chi [Alpha] incident, as well as several other reports from fraternities and sororities, has been turned over to the California attorney general for investigation,” Armstrong said.
According to Lazier, the university retained the California Attorney General’s Office to conduct the investigation pursuant to the procedure and policy set forth in CSU Executive Order 1097.
The Attorney General’s Office will also investigate whether Cal Poly’s fraternities and sororities have violated the CSU’s non-discrimination policy for student activities, set forth in CSU Executive Order 1068.
Lazier also noted that if the students are not found in violation of university policy and/or the student code of conduct, there will be no disciplinary sanctions issued. He added that if the behaviors engaged in constitute lawful free speech under the First Amendment, there will be no disciplinary sanctions for such behavior.
“The university has no intention of violating students’ individual free speech right or rights to freely assemble and associate,” Lazier said in an email.
Armstrong said the university will report the results as they are permissible by law once the investigation is complete.
He also asked the Cal Poly community to join him in “outrage” over the incident and encouraged viewers to join him at the Baker Forum at 2 p.m. today at the Performing Arts Center. The forum will be a conversation with Kimberly McLauglin-Smith on campus climate.
“We will not allow this act to impede our forward movement,” Armstrong concluded.
According to Lazier, the university cannot provide further information about the video because an investigation is ongoing.