Three members of a George Washington University sorority will be kicked out of the chapter after a picture showing a racist message circulated on social media.
The photo appears to show two Alpha Phi sorority members. One is holding up a banana peel and the caption reads: “[Name]: ‘I’m 1/16 black.’”
The sorority said the picture was posted by one of its members and contained two other members.
The chapter posted an apology on its Facebook page Friday morning.
“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 statement read.
The sorority says the members in question are in the process of having their memberships terminated.
The GW Hatchet first reported the photo after students took to social media to call on university leaders to respond.
Imani Ross, a senator for the school’s Student Association, tweeted the photo in question Wednesday night and noted the start of Black History Month.
The school responded to her tweet, saying it would “look into it.”
“University administrators have begun the process of investigating and handling the matter,” Ross told News4.
She said students in the multicultural community held a meeting Thursday night to “discuss further actions regarding issues related to diversity and inclusion.”
“This incident is deeply troubling, especially after Alpha Phi recently attended a diversity training on campus this past month,” Ross said.
George Washington University Provost Forrest Maltzman said since the report, there has been an active dialogue with the national headquarters of Alpha Phi and students on campus who have been affected.
“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,” Maltzman said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, racially charged incidents including bananas and Black students continue to arise at college campuses across the country,” the GW Black Student Union said in an Instagram post.
“I wasn’t surprised at all, I mean, it happens a lot. It’s happened all across the country so it didn’t surprise me at all. It’s hurtful, but not surprising,” Frederick Ryle, the president of the GW Black Student Union, told News4 on Friday.
Ryle said he was satisfied with the university’s response.
“There’s a bunch of different feelings, but at the end of the day, it’s bringing us together to make our community stronger, so, I’m here for it,” Ryle said.
Other students said they supported the sorority’s move to terminate the membership of the students involved, but more needs to be done.
“The university needs to be taking care of this, not just the students of color or, like, black organization leaders. This isn’t really our job. We’re just here to get an education. This is really their job, so we’re just pushing them to be able to address it,” sophomore Simone Hunter-Hobson said.
New4 has reached out to Alpha Phi International for comment but has not yet heard back.