After the town hall meeting concluded, Mustang News spoke with some of its attendees.
Political science sophomore and MEXA club member Rosa Lopez talked to Mustang News on behalf of MEXA, a Latinx club.
“We just want BSU to know in every way possible. We stand with them in solidarity, we want to be there,” Lopez said.
Lopez also expressed her frustration with Cal Poly administration’s response to the blackface incident.
“An email is not going to cut it an email every time this happens, it’s routine, we are in a cycle,” Lopez said. “I think at this point it’s time for everyone in a position of administration to just come out and talk to us. We don’t feel like we are being heard. I know damn sure that the black students on this campus don’t feel like they are being heard by the administration and we really need to do all we can to push the administration to come to our meetings, come to our events.”
Cal Poly alumnus Malcolm Mills also attended the town hall. Mills researched black male graduation rates at Cal Poly for his senior project and talked to Mustang News about his Cal Poly experience as a black man and the experiences of his peers of color.
“What my research was revealing, and I don’t think this will come to a surprise as anybody who knows about the situation, a lot of black students, particularly the black men I interviewed, found campus to be very hostile, very isolating,” Mills said.
Mills said he hopes his research will initiate change within the Cal Poly community and beyond. Mills said his research was his way of giving back to students of color and he hopes they will take action.
“At the end of the day I hope this isn’t just another incident where an incident happens, [where] it goes down, emotions get flared up, people take to the streets, take to the hallways, take to the classes and start saying stuff, and then, like a lot for these other incidents, quiet down. I just hope that this will actually help spur legitimate action by people who have the power to make these changes on this campus,” Mills said.
Update 10:05 p.m.:
Associated Students Inc. (ASI) President Riley Nilsen was called on by a speaker to respond to a comment made during tonight’s IFC meeting.
Nilsen approached the podium.
“I am appalled that IFC chose to vote on something that they knew wasn’t going to make a difference because it had already happened. I am very ashamed to be a part of greek life. I am very ashamed to represent those students who did that. I cannot believe that the members of Lambda Chi Alpha did not tell their brother to go wash his face off when they walked into that party because that was completely unacceptable. I 100 percent know the privilege that I have been given because I don’t have to wash my face off. I know that I am given a privilege to make a difference. Right now we have an ad-hoc that is looking into because it is an issue, it is an absolute issue, I’m not going to say that it’s not,” Nilsen said.
I 100 percent know the privilege that I have been given because I don’t have to wash my face off. I know that I am given a privilege to make a difference.
Members of the crowd yelled at Nilsen, calling for her to resign.
“If I resign, who knows who’s going to be ASI President and who knows what they’re going to do.”
Nilsen released an apology April 11 on her personal Facebook page regarding her statements.
“I apologize for the things that I said during the town hall meeting that weren’t as thoughtful as they should have been, and I won’t pretend like I didn’t do anything wrong because I’m tired of people on our campus using that as an excuse. I came to that meeting as an ally, but I know I said things that weren’t sensitive nor educated about the entire incident. I am aware and I sincerely apologize,” Nilsen said.
Update 9:30 p.m.:
An organizer announced the list of demands will be submitted to Cal Poly administration and other campus entities. There is a Google Form on the event’s page for anyone to add their own demands before a final list is submitted. A date was not provided for when the demands would be released.
An Emergency Town Hall is being held tonight at 8 p.m. in Engineering IV (building 192, room 106). It was formed by campus organizations in reaction to the events that occurred with Lambda Chi Alpha this weekend.
According to the event page, “All are welcome. The voices of Folks of Color will be centered, given the racist nature of the event.”
Watch the live stream here:
Several campus clubs have responded to the incident. Here are their statements:
Black Student Union:
“On behalf of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Black Student Union, we are appalled by and adamantly condemn the actions of Lambda Chi Alpha.”
“Particularly alongside Poly Cultural Weekend … this incident at Lambda Chi Alpha’s brotherhood event perpetuates the long-standing question of what work Cal Poly SLO is doing to support the admission and even more importantly, the retention, of marginalized students.”
“Given in particular, the meager 1% of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo population that Black students make up and the continual loss of Black faculty and staff, this event involving not only Blackface but “thug/gangster” dress is detrimental to current and prospective Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students.”
“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.”
“Further, the Black Student Union and its allies demand that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Administration publicly state their actions towards ending these frequently occurring, offensive events and maintain public records of their progress in these endeavors.”
Read the full statement here:
Cal Poly Democrats released a statement via Facebook April 10:
Panhellenic Council Executive Board released a statement:
College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Dean Doug Epperson sent an email to CLA faculty, staff and students on April 9:
The United Sorority & Fraternity Council released a statement April 10 with their list of demands:
The USFC executive council absolutely does not tolerate discrimination and expressions of hate toward ethnic groups in any way. Especially being a ❗MULTICULTURAL❗ Greek council, who serves to give minority groups in Greek a home and safe haven, we find the actions of Kyler Watkins and the rest of Lambda Chi Alpha disgusting and appalling. We don’t want yet another empty apology; we want ACTION to be taken.
Cal Poly Lambda Sigma Gamma Sorority released their statement April 10:
The Southwest Asian and North African club, the Muslim Student Association and the Iranian Student Cultural Organization sent a letter of solidarity to the BSU and all Black students April 11:
Latino Fraternity Nu Kappa Alpha:
Movimiento Estudiantil Xicano de Aztlàn:
Pilipino Cultural Exchange:
“As an Asian American cultural organization, we will not stay silent when both institutional and explicit racism persists on our campus. Within our community, we must combat anti-blackness and hold our people accountable.” #ThisIsCalPoly pic.twitter.com/f1w8DOvgZx
— PCE SLO (@PCESLO) April 13, 2018
Thai-Vietnamese Student Association:
Omega Xi Delta:
Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Student Government:
Cal Poly Drag Club:
American Indian Student Association (AISA):
alpha Kappa Delta Phi Sorority:
CAED Diversity and Inclusivity and CAED Student Council:
Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE):
Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity:
UndocuAlly Working Group:
Women’s & Gender Studies and Triota:
Students and community members are also responding via social media.
Lets all just talk about Cal Poly real quick guys for all my POC out there
— Deisha (@day_cakess31) April 8, 2018
Hey @CPPrezArmstrong you told prospective students this weekend that Cal Poly promotes & values diversity. If that’s really true & if the university cares about its POC students, students like him shouldn’t be allowed to step on this campus. This is unacceptable. https://t.co/QbdKpuXCr4
— marco adobo (@marcogsevilla) April 9, 2018
ok so some frat dudes @ cal poly did BLACK FACE and parents are defending them saying we’re “ACCUSING” them of being racist. pic.twitter.com/rEt4ddB3Zo
— ingrid (@ingrid4prez) April 8, 2018
It’s a shame. Cal Poly has no problem making out of state students pay more tuition in the name of diversity, but fails to hold orgs accountable on campus who think blackface is okay? I wonder why POC don’t come here.. pic.twitter.com/qdm5aklIZA
— James (@jabundance) April 8, 2018
Check back for continuous updates.
Update April 11 at 7:20 p.m.: The story has been updated to include Associated Students, Inc. President Riley Nilsen’s apology to the statement she made during the Emergency Town Hall.