Cal Poly State University Condemns Photo In Which Students Appear To 'Demean' Undocumented Peers With 'Cowboys Vs Illegal Aliens' Caption

Administrators at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California are investigating after a photo in which students appear to "demean" undocumented peers was posted to social media.

The photo, which has been published by several local outlets shows a number of students wearing red bandanas and making symbols with their hands and appears to have been published to social media with the caption: "Cowboys vs. (Illegal) Aliens".

In a statement, Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier told Newsweek thats the university was still "looking into the circumstances" of the photo.

However, in a message sent out to the campus' community late Tuesday evening, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong condemned the incident, asserting that it appeared "to demean undocumented students."

" We know that this photo has a negative impact on members of our community, particularly members of our undocumented student, faculty and staff community, their allies and others who work to promote an environment of inclusion at Cal Poly," Armstrong said. "For those who are hurt by this photo, know that we empathize and we stand with you."

"We don't know a lot about the photo at this time, and are looking into it further, but it is a reminder that each of us must subscribe to a higher standard of conduct," the school president said of the incident. "We must step in and be responsible community members and be active bystanders who stop behavior that seeks to divide us before it happens."

The incident comes just as Cal Poly, on Thursday, released the results of a survey aimed at taking a reading on the "campus climate" of the school.

The survey found that minority students were more likely to report feeling they had been discriminated against with black students roughly 5.5 times more likely than white students to report being discriminated against, while Latino students were more than four times more likely to report being discriminated against.

Ahead of the release of the results, Armstrong had said in his letter that he hoped "to see our whole campus engaged in learning about the campus climate results" and, "more importantly, to commit to doing their part to make us better."

"We have witnessed many incidents that have hurt individuals in our community," he said.

The photo appearing to demean undocumented immigrants, he said, "has added to the urgency of addressing our campus climate and creating an environment where every individual feels valued, safe and important for who they are and the additive talent they bring to Cal Poly."

Updated: This article has been updated to reflect the location of the campus involved.

Immigration protest
A protestor holds a sign reading No one is Illegal during a rally against the U.S. immigration policy on September 14, 2019 in New York City. JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty