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Contact: 

 
Black Student Union 
California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo 
calpolybsu.president@gmail.com 
 
For immediate release: 
 
April 9th, 2018, San Luis Obispo, California ​-​ ​On behalf of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 
Black Student Union, we are appalled by and adamantly condemn the actions of Lambda Chi 
Alpha. As our members have digested the influx of information, the fraternity’s official 
statement, and all the images that have surfaced, we have been disturbed but not surprised by the 
lack of critical thinking on the part of Lambda Chi Alpha. 
Despite their statement claiming that the event was “a competition between teams in 
which each team was represented by a different color (i.e. Red, Blue, Green, Black, Yellow)” the 
images that have surfaced from the weekend have told a very different story. Their claims of 
taking “full responsibility for the lack of regard when dressing up for [their] most recent event” 
and of being “​extremely sorry and embarrassed for failing to recognize the racial impacts this 
brought forth” differ from the surfacing of images and narratives that are antithetical to their 
alleged “apolitical” stance.  
Particularly alongside Poly Cultural Weekend, a large-scale event hosted by Cal Poly’s 
cultural organizations that is “​designed to acquaint prospective students to the Cal Poly 
University by exploring academic, cultural, and social resources of the institution”​, this incident 
at Lambda Chi Alpha’s Brotherhood event perpetuates the long-standing question of what work 
Cal Poly SLO is doing to support the admission and even more importantly, the retention of 
marginalized students. For these fraternity brothers to have held such an event, even under their 
weak “justification” of being unaware, undermines the attempts by student organizations to 
increase the numbers of students of color and instead perpetuates the cumulative, hostile 
environment for marginalized students. Given, in particular, the meager 1% of the Cal Poly San 
Luis Obispo population that Black students make up and the continual loss of Black faculty and 
staff, this event involving not only Blackface but “thug/gangster” dress is detrimental to current 
and prospective Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students. Given that Kyler Watkins is a Senior, the 
“Colonial Bros and Nava-hos” party held by Phi Sigma Kappa in November of 2013 occurred 
around the start of this student’s Cal Poly San Luis Obispo career; to state that there was no 
precedent for understanding that racialized imagery is not acceptable event attire or themes is not 
only ignoring the high levels of access to information that an institution like Cal Poly San Luis 
Obispo offers but also transfers the necessary accountability for critical thinking that Kyler 
Watkins and his fellow Lambda Chi Alpha members have failed to engage in.   
As a Predominantly White Institution with an overwhelming representation of those in 
the top 10% of the income bracket, Cal Poly has shown time and time again that it does not hold 
itself, its Greek Organizations, or its students accountable for their actions. With the lack of 
support for survivors of sexual assault, the continually low numbers of students, faculty, & staff 
of color, and the continual excusing of the behavior of Greek organizations, the Cal Poly Black 
Student Union and its allies incite the university to take a hard stance against these acts that go 
against the Diversity and Inclusivity statements the University is meant to hold itself and its 
constituents to. 
It is not the obligatory task for the Black Student Union or for other marginalized groups 
to educate these members as to the conspicuous racist implications of these actions; in the 
context of being at a prestigious four-year university that offers readily accessible internet and 
countless events on and off the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus of similar events to what has 
transpired at Lambda Chi Alpha, the onus falls on these members to acquiesce to the demands 
the Black Student Union and its supporters will lay out as well. Further, the Black Student Union 
and its allies ​demand ​that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Administration publicly state their actions 
towards ending these frequently occurring, offensive events and maintain public records of their 
progress in these endeavors. 
 
 
In solidarity, 
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Black Student Union 
calpolybsu.president@gmail.com 
 

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