WASHINGTON, D.C. - Some groups of students at George Washington University are calling on the university to take action and make changes following a photo that circulated this week.
The Snapchat picture, posted at the start of Black History Month, shows two women, confirmed to be
members of the Alpha Phi sorority with the caption of a student's name, followed by "I'm 1/16 black."
One of the women in the photo is holding a banana.
"I don't know if her intentions were to say because she has a banana, she is black, or if she just felt like she was black in that moment for whatever other reasoning, but all-around it was disappointing" says Abiola Agoro, NAACP GW Chapter President.
Agoro was one of many group leaders to respond, condemning the photo.
"There was an entirely inappropriate posting on social media last night. Whatever the circumstance, or true intention of those involved, the image was disturbing, hurtful and not reflective of who I know we are as a community. As a university, we have emphasized our commitment to inclusion and have made clear that “You are Welcome Here." We do this through our actions and our words. Images like the one posted on social media can make people question whether they are welcome at the university, and that is unacceptable to me."
Now students like Agoro say they want to see change.
The Student Association Senate announced that they will hold a meeting on Monday regarding legislation they drafted, titled, "Alpha Phi Bigotry Act."
The legislation, obtained by DCW50, asks for the university to remove the chapter and lists a number of recommended changes that "prioritize diversity and inclusion initiatives" on campus.
The NAACP also released a letter of their own with a number of demands, including diversity training for students, faculty, and staff, as well as an anonymous site for reporting racial incidents.
The Alpha Phi sorority released a statement on their Facebook page on Friday, stating that the three women involved are in the process of having their memberships terminated:
"On January 31, 2018, a member of our chapter posted a racist image on snapchat that contained two other members in our chapter engaged in offensive and inexcusable behavior. We apologize for the delay in posting this response. We recognize that our earlier response, supplied by our National Headquarters, did not reflect the severity of this racist act. We want to take this opportunity to apologize without qualification and take responsibility for the actions of our members.
We are culpable for this action as a group in which a few felt comfortable making a joke that was distinctly racist, ignorant, and harmful. We are in no way trying to contextualize, excuse, or forgive the events that occurred.
We recognize that there are issues within our organization relating to our privilege and lack of diversity, and we are committed to listening to the voices of those who have been harmed by the actions of those individuals and by our actions as a chapter.
The three members in question are in the process of having their membership terminated.
At this time, we have reached out to the Multicultural Student Services Center in an effort to begin the process towards reconciliation and reeducation."
Regarding the NAACP's letter and Monday's meeting, a university spokesperson told DCW50 on Saturday, "University administrators have heard directly from the GW NAACP chapter about their recommendations and will be continuing to work with them and others on campus about race, diversity and inclusion at GW."