Cal Poly made national news again! Yay!
Was it because Cal Poly was ranked No. 1 in U.S. News' Best Colleges list? No? Really?
Well, was it because the Aeronautical Engineering program produced another NASA astronaut like Robert "Hoot" Gibson or Frederick Wilford "CJ" Sturchow? No?
Um, was it because lily-white Cal Poly seems to have a systemic and pervasive problem with bigotry in all its disgusting forms? Yes? Really? Well damn! That sucks!
In case you're on a social media and news blackout, Cal Poly's in national media again because early this month photos of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity members appeared online showing one in blackface (Ha-ha! Minstrel shows! Retro-hilarious!) and others dressed as Hispanic gangbangers throwing gang signs and decorated with prison and gang tattoos. Oh—and it was during PolyCultural Weekend, which is designed to demonstrate how inviting Cal Poly is to minority students.
Yikes! And oops!
The frat issued this statement by way of explanation: "This event was a competition between teams in which each team is represented by a different color (i.e., Red, Blue, Green, Black, Yellow). Similar to high school spirit rallies and collegiate student sections, members dressed up in support of their specific team. We are extremely sorry and embarrassed for failing to recognize the racial impacts this brought forth."
Well there you go! Perfectly innocent! They were merely ignorant, not racist! Right?
Excuse me, members of Lambda Chi Alpha—whose core values are supposedly "loyalty, duty, respect, service and stewardship, honor, integrity, and personal courage"—but I call bullshit. What "color" does dressing like minority gang members depict? Brown? Did the Red group dress as Native Americans? Were the Yellow group members dressed as Asians? Did you, perhaps, have a Rainbow group dressed as LGBTQ+?
Look, I'm sure some of you guys are actual obtuse dumbshits too oblivious to realize how racist your behavior is, but surely among you are one or two astute young men who could have pointed out that what you were doing looked really bad. I mean, I guess it's possible that each and every member of your house is a total moron, but statistically speaking, that seems unlikely.
Of course, it'd be nice to think this was some kind of anomaly, a unsavory blip in an otherwise tolerant and inclusive campus culture, but looking back over the last 10 years or so, it seems pretty clear that Cal Poly is populated by racist assholes.
In October 2008, students living in the Cal Poly Crop Science House were found to be displaying a noose and a confederate flag, which are clearly racist and threatening, and during a Halloween party, people reported seeing a sign posted at the door that read, "No niggers, no faggots, no hippies." The six students living in the subsidized housing were told to find other accommodations, but otherwise there were no repercussions. The university cited free speech and claimed the incident wasn't indicative of Cal Poly.
In March 2013, a black student's roommates scrawled racist and homophobic comments on his door. It was considered vandalism.
On Nov. 15, 2013, Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity hosted a "Colonial Bros and Nava-hos" party, denigrating both Native Americans and women! Twofer! The university concluded it didn't violate any campus policies.
In February 2016, another student's apartment door was "vandalized" with "I Niggers" and decorated with the Communist hammer and sickle motif as well as sauvastika symbols, which look like a reverse swastika, probably because the "vandal" was too dumb to realize he was drawing it in reverse. He also wrote "clean the trash" twice. Hygiene is important!
In November 2016, Cal Poly Republicans erected their Free Speech Wall, which was soon covered by anti LGBTQ, African-American, and Muslim slurs. It was smashed in the night and rebuilt the next day. In November 2017, the wall contained vulgar anti-Trump messages. I can hardly wait for 2018's wall!
In June 2017, Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity caught heat for a photo depicting its members in ethnically insensitive costumes while holding a banner that read "TRUMP—MAKE AMERICAN GREAT AGAIN." They were standing in front of their California Boulevard house. Some were armed with rifles. You really know how to make Cal Poly proud, boys! Learn by buffooning!
Is it just me or does it seem like there are a lot of goddamn intolerant ignoramuses attending Cal Poly? Also, does it seem like Cal Poly administration's reaction—condolences, sympathy, and minimal action—are the equivalent of "hopes and prayers" in the face of gun violence?
Yes, free speech is a thing. So is being held accountable for that free speech. Lambda Chi Alpha is currently on suspension while the party and photographs are being investigated, but should the university enact tougher policies? Free speech protects hate speech, but that doesn't mean Cal Poly can't set codes of conduct. Minority students have the right to feel safe on campus and know that the university will expel students engaging racist behavior.
National news for racism, the St. Fratty's Day roof collapse, inmate torture and deaths in the SLO County Jail, Uber driver rapes—I miss the good old days when San Luis Obispo was in national news for being the Happiest City in America. Sigh. Δ
The Shredder knows the sting of anti-office machinery bigotry. Send ideas and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.