Kathleen McMahon is the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students. Letters to the editor do not reflect the viewpoints or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
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The Dean of Students Office has been made aware of an end-of-year photo taken at the Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) fraternity house. The AGR members in the photo were wearing costumes, including some that appropriate various cultures and some individuals appear to be holding guns and bottles of alcohol. This is not the kind of display we like to see from our students – nor does it represent the values of our institution.
Our office has received letters of concern from our campus, and are aware that the acts of cultural appropriation have been hurtful to members of our community.
AGR student leadership has met with Fraternity & Sorority Life staff and has issued a public apology. My office worked with the Alpha Gamma Rho national chapter to investigate the matter and is working in concert with them on outcomes and educational sanctions. AGR has been issued a warning from their national headquarters, who encouraged them to continue dialogue around student and cultural inclusion. AGR also reviewed their own social media and risk management policy. The Fraternity and Sorority Life office has followed suit with a warning and is developing a plan for education. Lastly, we will review the Cal Poly bylaws and training for clubs and organizations and recommend changes.
When incidents like this happen, it provides us with an opportunity to look closely at ourselves and to think about what we stand for as individuals and as people who are part of the greater Cal Poly community. Cal Poly is committed to an inclusive campus that values diversity and strives for continual improvement to our university’s culture. The Dean of Students office will be working with the Office of University Diversity and Inclusivity, as well as individual colleges, to invite more speakers to campus who provide opportunities for critical dialogue across differences.
It is important to continually educate ourselves about issues of inclusivity and diversity. Cal Poly has many resources to aid in this effort including coursework, co-curricular activities (provided by the Cross Cultural Centers, Office of University Diversity and Inclusivity and many other offices), allyship and microaggression training and much more.
The role of the Dean of Students Office is to support all students. We stand with those who have been hurt by the recent actions and also support those in our clubs and organizations as we work together to improve our campus climate.
*This article has been edited for clarity