Cal Poly challenging email that identifies party’s theme, host

Mustang News File Photo

University President Jeffrey Armstrong sent an email to campus Tuesday criticizing an “offensive” party this past weekend, which the Cal Poly Diversity Coalition identified as a “Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos” fraternity event in an email to its members Wednesday. Cal Poly administrators are challenging that email as their investigation continues.

Sean McMinn

Update Nov. 21, 3:03 p.m.

Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier and political science department chair Jean Williams both responded to this article Thursday afternoon.

In an email to Mustang News, Lazier wrote that neither Williams nor the Cal Poly Diversity Coalition are being reprimanded for their sending of an email containing the name and theme of a party this weekend now under investigation.

“The email presented some specific information that Student Affairs is still actively investigating,” Lazier wrote. “While administration does believe it was premature to release such information, that does not translate into anyone being in any kind of trouble. We simply needed to clarify to local media outlets asking about the email that the information presented in it was not yet confirmed and had not been issued officially by the university.”

Williams, in a separate email to Mustang News, criticized publishing her original message to the Cal Poly Diversity Coalition:

“I find it troubling that you chose to write about the party that occurred last weekend by manufacturing a controversy associated with the Diversity Coalition, rather than focusing on the offensive nature of the party itself. In the process, it would appear that you did not attempt to find out anything about the Diversity Coalition. It is not an administrative unit within the university; rather, it is a neutral, voluntary body made up of faculty and staff interested in issues associated with diversity. There was nothing inappropriate in the actions of the steering committee. The email was meant for our group only; it was in response to requests for information about the incident, and we urged members to go the forum. We certainly have the right to do that. I don’t know how the MD got a copy of the email, but I would hope that as a student journalist, you would attempt to write fact-based pieces, rather than manufacture controversy by using innuendo.

You are welcome to update your article by including these comments, though I suspect you will choose not to do so. That is unfortunate.

Best Regards,
Dr. Williams”

Original Post

University administrators are challenging the contents of an email sent to the Cal Poly Diversity Coalition that identified the host and theme of an “offensive” party now under investigation by the dean of students, a university spokesperson said Wednesday.

The email, sent by political science department chair Jean Williams and obtained by Mustang News, said “Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos” was the theme of a fraternity party held over the weekend that administrators began criticizing Tuesday. It also identified Phi Sigma Kappa as the fraternity who hosted the party.

Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier said the email was sent without the approval of the dean of students or vice president of student affairs, who are both declining to elaborate further on the party’s theme or host until the investigation is further along.

Dean of Students Jean DeCosta contacted Williams to tell her the information sent in the email is still not confirmed by the investigation, Lazier said.

“It sounds to me like the diversity folks maybe got a little bit ahead of themselves,” he said. “The investigation through the dean of student’s office is still going on. Right now, they are not 100 percent certain who was behind the event, so we are not sure who was responsible.”

Phi Sigma Kappa President and civil engineering senior Andrew Gulbronson did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday morning.

Williams, who sent the email Wednesday morning, declined to comment on how the Cal Poly Diversity Coalition learned of the information contained in it.

Cal Poly learned of the party when University President Jeffrey Armstrong and Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey sent a campuswide email Tuesday criticizing the event for being offensive to Native Americans and women.

Humphrey added Tuesday that at least three greek organizations are under investigation, and he said he expects more to be included as the investigation continues.

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