No violations found after investigation of ‘Nava-ho’ party

Mustang News File Photo

Cal Poly president Jeffrey Armstrong said the offensive off-campus party on Nov. 16 did not violate university policies.

Mustang News Staff Report

The Nov. 16 off-campus party that came under fire on campus and across the country was not in violation of university policies, according to a campuswide email from Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong and Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey sent Wednesday afternoon.

“The review found no evidence that party hosts systematically billed the party theme in offensive terms, but it appears some of the party planners did so in an informal way,” Armstrong and Humphrey wrote in the email. “While we personally deplore this behavior, the University’s review found no verifiable evidence that any campus policies were violated.”

The party was reportedly dubbed “Colonial Bros and Nava-hos,” but the president’s email did not state it was the informal theme. It was considered “offensive” based on initial reports from neighbors that men were dressed in colonial attire and women in “sexually explicit” Native American garb.

Armstrong’s and Humphrey’s initial email about the incident on Nov. 19 attributed the party to social fraternities and sororities, but made no mention of the possible hosts in his email Wednesday. They wrote that several actions will be taken to address cultural sensitivity at Cal Poly, including a discussion on gender and diversity at an annual greek summit, which includes fraternity and sorority leaders on campus.

Cal Poly also hired a curriculum specialist to assist faculty on incorporating diversity and inclusivity into the school’s curriculum, and is adding programs aimed at teaching students to “enhance the campus climate for diversity and inclusivity,” according to the email.

“Together – students, faculty, staff, and alumni – we can, and must, do better to create a campus climate that is open and welcoming to all,” Armstrong and Humphrey wrote. “Each of us has responsibility for working toward this goal, and each of us needs to contribute to ensure that we genuinely improve our campus climate.”

The party was unanimously criticized by attendees of the Nov. 22 forum in Chumash Auditorium, and led to calls for more diversity education in the classroom at Cal Poly. The party also received national attention from news outlets including Associated Press, Huffington Post and NBC News.

Cal Poly administration was criticized by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for investigating the party’s theme.

Based on the review and the campus community’s response, Armstrong wrote there is still much to accomplish in terms of “campus climate” and diversity.

Kassi Luja, Laura Pezzini and Samantha Sullivan contributed to this report.