Updated: Feb. 2, 2018 at 11:26 a.m.
More than 200 students and administrators packed into a Funger Hall lecture hall Thursday evening to express outrage and demand accountability after a racist Snapchat post featuring members of a sorority rocked campus.
The meeting, which was organized by the Black Heritage Celebration committee and the Black Student Union, lasted about two and half hours as students voiced frustration with campus diversity and called for mandatory student diversity and inclusion trainings. Some students demanded the Panhellenic Association and the University discipline Alpha Phi, whose members appeared to be featured in the controversial post.
The post included a photo seeming to depict two Alpha Phi members, with one member posing with an empty banana peel. The photo included the caption “Izzy: ‘I’m 1/16 black.’” GW’s Alpha Phi chapter apologized for the incident Thursday evening in a Facebook post that was later deleted.
The picture circulated on social media Thursday morning, sparking widespread anger and frustration from students and alumni.
Provost Forrest Maltzman, who earlier called the post “entirely inappropriate” in a statement, attended the event, saying the forum was an opportunity to reflect on Panhel policies and examine what took place.
“It truly didn’t surprise me,” he said at the meeting. “There’s no question that this post was a step back. It makes people feel that they are not welcome here. I would love to tell you that we have a magical solution.”
Tim Miller, the associate dean of students who attended the forum, said the post was “sad” to read and that officials had been working throughout the day to address the outrage.
“Getting rid of chapter is not something that happens within a 12 to 15 hour period,” he said. “We’ve been working on this since 12:23 a.m. because this matters to us and this is our community too.”
Elizabeth Jessup, the president of Panhel, which also apologized for the post Thursday, told the group gathered that she ran on a platform to create an inclusive, diverse collection of students in Panhel chapters.
“I want to talk to you guys and hear your voices as much as I can, because I want to make change,” Jessup said. “I know that there are really messed up things going on, and they’ve gone on long before this picture was posted and they will continue to go on regardless of what happens with this and of course we need swift consequences immediately.”
Throughout the meeting, students sharply criticized the photo with many saying they were disappointed in the Panhellenic community as a whole. Students began using #AlphaPhiNot4Me and #AlphaPhiBigotry on social media to show their disapproval.
Sophomore Michael Ferrier said Alpha Phi should be removed from campus because of the incident.
“We need to take action and have them kicked off campus and have a black Greek letter organization that can actually improve diversity,” he said.
Leah Potter contributed reporting.
This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the event was organized by GW’s NAACP chapter. It was co-hosted by the Black Heritage Celebration committee and the Black Student Union. We regret these errors.