Abiola Agoro
Abiola Agoro, president of the NAACP chapter at George Washington University (Courtesy of Olivia Anderson)

George Washington University students and the NAACP’s campus chapter issued Sunday a list of recommendations to address overt racism and acts of microaggression by White students after members of the campus’s Alpha Phi sorority posted racist photos on social media.

In one released photo, an Alpha Phi member holds a banana peel with the caption: “I’m 1/16 Black.”

Despite an apology from the sorority, students have noted an increase in racist behavior and language and what appears to be an unwillingness among university administrators to address them.

“There are a lot of students here who are ignorant and who totally rely on stereotypes as they go about their day,” student Ashley Miranda told The Informer. “A person has a right to their opinions, but educated people tend to base their opinions on facts, interactions and logic, rather than ignorance. College should afford students a better understanding of others as well as the subject matters.”

Miranda said that when she first heard about the Snapchat posts, it reminded her of Brianna Rae Brochu, a White student at the University of Hartford who committed hostile acts against her Black roommate Chennel Rowe in an attempt to get a White roommate.

Brochu admitted through Instagram to putting moldy clam dip in Rowe’s lotions, spitting in her coconut oil and sticking Rowe’s toothbrush “where the sun doesn’t shine.”

“If these white girls — in both instances — had not placed their deeds on social media, they would not have been known,” Miranda said. “These are sinister people, smiling in your face and doing savage things behind your back. To have the administration telling you that it’s all in your imagination or that you are overreacting suggests that Black students are not wanted.”

The NAACP’s GW campus chapter condemned the incidents.

“This is not the first racial incident on campus this year, or even this semester,” it said in a statement. “In the first month, there have been numerous complaints from students of racially insensitive comments from professors, of racist housing situations, and much more. Time and time again, students are told to ‘settle down’ to not be so ‘sensitive’ and to deny themselves the universal principles of decency and respect. This hush culture must come to an end, and we demand the administration not shy away from this issue.”

George Washington University Provost Forrest Maltzman released a statement concerning the incident, saying in part:

“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.”

In a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League, racist fliers, banners and stickers were found on college campuses 147 times in last fall, more than a threefold increase of the 41 cases reported one year before. It charted more than 300 cases since November 2016, when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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