This letter reflects the opinions of Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE). Letters to the editor do not reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Dear President Armstrong and California State University Chancellor White:
The leaders and members of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student club Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE) are writing to voice our opposition to the act of racism, discrimination, intimidation and harassment by the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity this past weekend. Their behavior was completely unacceptable and, as members of the RISE club on campus, we demand for Cal Poly administration and the California State University (CSU) to take action.
President Armstrong shared in his email response to the campus this afternoon, that this was “racially insensitive behavior.” We counter this statement and believe the actions of Lambda Chi Alpha were intentionally targeted towards students of color and should be acknowledged as racist. These students hold no regard for how unethical their actions were.
The coordinated efforts by Lambda Chi Alpha to host a party, where members wore blackface and dressed in attire to negatively portray students of color, is blatant racism and has created an unwelcoming and fearful environment for our members and other students of color. This is unbelievable, especially during Poly Cultural Weekend — an event that is supposed to promote Cal Poly as a welcoming, diverse and inclusive campus.
Our RISE community was particularly targeted. The fraternity members who posed in the large group photo were depicting Latinos in derogatory ways. The writing on their arms and knuckles included expletives and hate speech. Another photograph depicted a student, Kyler Watkins, in blackface which is completely oppressive and disrespectful. The photographic evidence and reports of their actions directed toward students of color was nothing less than overt racism targeting Black and Brown students.
There is a cloak of protection of free speech. However, there is also a duty to end racism and hate speech. The culprits of these racist acts must be held accountable for their actions. Their public statement and insufficient apology regarding the “brotherhood event” does not justify the fact not one of its members decided to stop the event from taking place. They must hold each other accountable for their actions as they are tasked to “ensure [their] members are fostering a healthy community of diversity and inclusivity”.
As members of RISE, we demand that Lambda Chi Alpha at minimum face the following consequences in addition to those recently levied by Lambda Chi Alpha nationals:
- The organization be terminated as a campus entity for a year evicted from the Cal Poly-owned property
- All of the students who participated in these actions be expelled
- A detailed outline and follow-up plan on how the organization will prevent events like this from happening again
To our fellow students of color who have felt harmed, threatened and/or angered by the actions of Lambda Chi Alpha, we stand together against racism and the collective call-to-action to callout this misconduct and demand change.
RISE will continue to fight and support our fellow students and immigrant community. Together we will rise above the hate and ignorance and light the path for a brighter future.
Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE)
*This letter has been edited for clarity.