A California state university has indefinitely suspended fraternities and sororities after photos surfaced showing a fraternity member in blackface and others dressed up as gang members. The move at California Polytechnic State University was announced Tuesday by school President Jeffrey Armstrong, who said in a lengthy letter to the campus community that it has been gut-wrenching "to witness the hurt so many have felt and continue to feel." The suspension covers "all Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council fraternities and sororities," the letter says. (It does not apply to Cal Poly's cultural fraternities and sororities.) Last week, the university suspended the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity after photos emerged on social media of one member wearing blackface and others posing and dressing up like gang members, the AP reports.
The university took the broader action against all Greek fraternities and sororities after learning of another instance of "racial profiling and cultural appropriation" at the Sigma Nu fraternity, Armstrong wrote. Photos showing three Sigma Nu members dressed as gang members emerged on social media Tuesday. Hundreds of students at the school protested and held an emergency town hall after the Lambda Chi Alpha photos emerged. "If Greek Life is to remain at Cal Poly, these students must re-invent their organizations and activities so they add value to our campus community and foster a culture of inclusion instead of undermining it," Armstrong says. In addition to the suspension, Armstrong says the university is meeting with and fielding ideas from minority students about improving campus culture, hiring a specialist on diversity and inclusion, and requiring training on implicit bias for all campus hiring committees.