The Interfraternal Council at California Polytechnic State University released new guidelines Tuesday after a photo of a fraternity member donning blackface began circulating on social media. They called for fraternities to work with multicultural groups to bring about awareness, add more diversity in Greek life and adopt a zero-tolerance policy for racism as well as sexism. Officials also said all fraternities must add non-discrimination policies in their bylaws.
The horribly racist photo, showing Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity members also wearing bandannas and baggy pants, upset dozens of students over the weekend. Voices over the incident were raised at a university meeting Monday, with a protest planned for Friday, according to local news outlet KSBY. Students at the school in San Luis Obispo want to drive home the message that racism is never going to fly.
They also want to make another point: A quick rebuke, oversimplified email or paternalistic lecture that glosses over how deeply racist incidents hurt folks don’t fly, either. No whitesplaining is needed.
“I don’t know how you can paint your face black and say it was a party theme,” Norris Cooper, a Cal Poly student explained. “It doesn’t feel like diversity and inclusion is important (here). I’d like to see diversity. I would like to see people that look like me on campus.”
In this case, the school’s suspicion of the fraternity and an investigation should just be the beginning. More must be done, students said to KSBY.
But students added that more outreach to minority groups is needed. A bigger issue remains that not enough students of color attend Cal Poly, and racist incidents don’t make them feel safe or make it easier to pave the way for more diverse enrollment.
Cal Poly officials have explained in recent years that they want to increase diversity at the university, which is predominately White, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reported. But several students are not buying those words.
It’s clear that whitesplaining a racist incident or why more students of color don’t attend the school isn’t doing anyone good. The students’ planned protest for Friday should inspire university officials to do more work.