GW suspends Panhel informal recruitment, social activities this fall amid racist post

Media Credit: File Photo by Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Panhellenic Association sororities could not participate in the annual "Meet the Greeks" event Saturday after a racist Snapchat post emerged from the account of a sorority president earlier this week.

Panhellenic Association sororities are prohibited from holding social events or participating in informal fall recruitment after a racist Snapchat post from a sorority president surfaced Wednesday.

Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Cissy Petty emailed chapter presidents and Panhel Saturday to notify them that sororities are banned from informally recruiting new members or participating in any social activities this fall after officials were made aware of a “harmful and racially offensive” social media post.

“The post was insensitive, insulting and racist,” the email, obtained by The Hatchet, states. “And while this incident is concerning, it is also part of a larger challenge of building the appropriate culture on our campus, recognizing the harm that results from our past incidents and oppressive system that continue to surface.”

A racist Snapchat post that appeared on former Phi Sigma Sigma President Alison Janega’s account over the summer emerged earlier this week. The image to have been taken in front of a plantation gift shop with the caption “‘I wonder if they sell slaves.'”

Janega announced her intention to step down from her position Friday, and members of Phi Sigma Sigma confirmed Janega’s resignation later that day. Janega’s post comes about a year and a half after two Alpha Phi members appeared in a racist Snapchat post in February 2018.

Petty said the policy was developed “after consultation” with University President Thomas LeBlanc, according to the email. All Panhel chapters will be required to participate in “structured educational programming and training” around “leadership, values and diversity” and will not be able to participate in a “Meet the Greeks” event, which was scheduled for Saturday, she said.

“This time will allow all members and chapters to focus and engage in meaningful participation in this collective effort,” the email states. “Our hope is to have all chapters return to living out their values, including fostering a community that respects diversity and inclusion.”

Panhel President Izzy Griffith said her organization shares the University’s “disgust” about Janega’s post and is in “full support” of GW’s call for a “robust response” that coincides with the organization’s goal to create an “inclusive” culture in the Greek community.

“While we are disheartened by their decision to suspend the activity of the entire community, we recognize the need for further bolstering of our system-wide diversity and inclusion conversations and intentional actions,” she said in an email. “We are eager to learn more about what the University envisions and – most importantly – we pledge to lead as best we are able to foster not only dialogue but also long-term culture change.”

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