American University finds itself investigating a racial incident against a Black Greek-letter organization on its campus, ironically around the same time a Black woman becomes president of the school’s student government.
NBC Washington reports bananas were found hanging from strings in the shape of nooses in three places on American University’s campus Monday. The bananas were marked with the letters “AKA,” signifying it was targeted at the school’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. The racist taunts were found hanging at a shuttle bus stop, a dining hall and a mixed-gender residence hall for undergraduates.
— Lud Blo (@KingPablo26) May 1, 2017
Calling the incident a “crude and racially insensitive act of bigotry,”American University President Neil Kerwin issued a statement to students Monday letting them know occurrences like this have no place in the community.
“Know that American University remains committed to principles of diversity, inclusion, common courtesy, and human dignity, and acts of bigotry only strengthen our resolve,” Kerwin wrote. “Anyone who does not feel similarly does not belong here. These racist, hateful messages have no place in our community. The safety of our students is paramount.”
— The Eagle (@TheEagleOnline) May 1, 2017
Kerwin said there will be a campus community meeting on Tuesday, May 2, at 12 p.m. in Kay Chapel to discuss the incident. The President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion will be at the meeting and will also host one-on-one drop-in sessions at 6 p.m. at McDowell Hall.
The incident comes on the heels of the election of Taylor Dumpson as the first Black female student government president in American University’s history. In her first letter to fellow students as president, vowed to make sure students continue to feel safe and that incidents such as this never occur again.
“This is not what I imagined my first letter to you all would be. In my first message to the student body, I would have wanted to talk about accountability, transparency, accessibility and inclusivity. Now more than ever, we need to make sure that members of our community feel welcomed and, above all, safe on this campus. This is exactly why we need to do more than just have conversations but move in a direction towards more tangible solutions to prevent incidents like these from occurring in the future,” said Dumpson in a statement.