Brooke Sperbeck/Mustang News
Cal Poly students gave their reactions leaving the forum Friday.

Sean McMinn
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Attendees at a campus forum Friday spent more than an hour criticizing a “Colonial Bros and Nava-hos”-themed party Cal Poly is investigating, as well as the students who participated in it.

No one at the forum in Chumash Auditorium publically defended the theme or “offensive” nature of the party, which has prompted a university investigation and made national headlines this week.

Interfraternity council public relations director Alex Horncliff apologized for the party on behalf of the greek community.

“As director of public relations, I apologize formally,” Horncliff, a kinesiology junior, said. “We messed up.”

After leaders of Cal Poly diversity groups made remarks condemning the party as racist and sexist, students, faculty and staff spent more than an hour calling for change in students’ attitudes toward minorities on campus.

“We are not adults, because an event like this happened,” English senior James Kelly said. “We need to have a greater understanding and greater maturity and recognize that there are consequences, even when you do not have malicious intent.”

Native American faculty and students also spoke, echoing the message of a statement issued nationally by Jennifer Rose Denetdale, a member of Navajo Nation Human Rights.

Sarah Lamar, a biological sciences senior and member of the American-Indian Student Association, told the forum that incidents like the fraternity party took away from the excitement she had coming to Cal Poly.

“It is very disheartening to come to a school like that,” Lamar said.

Other students told stories of larger patterns of discrimination at Cal Poly.

“As a member of greek life, and as a white male, I am not OK with the things that go on,” said Alex Thomas, a junior who works with Safer, Cal Poly’s sexual assault prevention center. “I am not OK with the racism and objectification of women.”

Faculty and staff in attendance, as well as some students, appeared to mostly favor more required education in cultural diversity as part of general education requirements.

But among those who didn’t volunteer to speak in front of the hundreds of people at the forum, some weren’t as convinced of how inappropriate the party was.

As he left the forum, bioresource and agricultural engineering freshman Logan Honeycutt said he thought the event was, “a big waste of time.”

“It just turned into a pity party,” he said. “People were just coming and complaining and basically just generalizing Cal Poly as a racist campus and saying they are a minority, they feel scared … no one’s out to get them like they think. I’m offended they’re generalizing Cal Poly as a racist campus.”

Graphic by Brooke Sperbeck

Join the Conversation


  1. Eloquent words from this Honeycutt kid. /s

    No one’s trying to generalize this campus as racist. If anything, the student population is largely ignorant. I like to think that most of them have no conscious racist convictions, but many lack the understanding of other cultures and viewpoints that would make them able to judge what kinds of things are inappropriate to do/say. That’s what makes cultural competency programs seem like a productive thing. It might seem like overkill, and not as many people would be super enthusiastic about it, but when there are this many people trying to argue that everyone’s overreacting, it shows how many people just don’t understand what kind of effects these occurrences have on others, and even the effects on all of us at the university as a whole. That’s ignorance and a lack of empathy, but that can easily be fixed, if people just take the time to understand.

    1. I wonder if Logan Honeycutt is related to our fearless advocate of free speech, Nate Honeycutt, who is the president of the Cal Poly College Republicans…

  2. Honestly I don’t think that “more required education in cultural diversity as part of general education requirements” would help anything. It’s just going to fall into one more class that students don’t want to take or don’t care about. Plus you can teach someone something all you want but if they don’t care or don’t want to change it isn’t going to make a difference.

  3. Clearly this forum was to make some folks feel better… and that is called exercising free speech.

    BTW Free Speech isn’t free…. sometimes there are hurt feelings…. its the price we pay to live in an open and relatively free society.

    Once censorship becomes acceptable … everyone’s speech becomes fair game.

  4. More education wouldn’t do shit. Students barely care about GE’s, let alone a culture and diversity class. LET MORE MINORITIES INTO CAL POLY, FOSTER A COMMUNITY WHERE EVERYONE INTERACTS WITH EACHOTHER – THIS WILL STOP MINORITIES FROM ALIENATING THEMSELVES AND STICKING TO THEIR OWN PEOPLE. IT WIILL HELP INTEGRATE EVERY CULTURE. This isn’t about race or color. The majority of people at CAl Poly come from neighborhoods where diversity isn’t seen at all. College should be THAT PLACE! You learn so much from different types of people, FIND A WAY TO INTEGRATE EVERYONE.

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