On Monday, students at American University reported several acts of hatred on campus, sparking cause for concern among the African-American students at the university.
Several bananas, hanging by a string in the shape of a noose, appeared in three locations on school grounds marked with the letters “AKA,” representing the predominately black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. According to reports, the incident occurred on the same day that the school’s first black female student government president, Taylor Dumpson, who is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, took office.
The incident is under investigation, as officials have seized surveillance footage to be reviewed.
This is the latest incident this school year involving racial issues and bananas. Back in September, a banana was thrown at a black student and another was placed outside of a black student’s door, sparking frustration among the African American students.
“Having this happen in September and happen again in May as our first black woman student president is taking office is deeply frustrating and it makes me feel disrespected as a student,” a member of the Black Student Alliance said.
The university’s president, Neil Kerwin, released a statement on the incident, confirming the investigation and apologizing for the incident. Taylor Dumpson, the Student Government President, issued a statement, highlighting her frustration, all while encouraging the student body to rise above the hate and unite in solidarity.
Check out her statement below:
Being first isn’t easy.
Early this morning, the Department of Public Safety was notified of a race-related incident targeted towards American University members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the first predominately black greek lettered sorority in the United States.
It is disheartening and immensely frustrating that we are still dealing with this issue after recent conversations, dialogues, and town halls surrounding race relations on campus. But 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.
As the first black woman AUSG president, I implore all of us to unite in solidarity with those impacted by this situation and we must remember that “if there is no struggle, there is no progress” – Frederick Douglass. We must use this time to reflect on what we value as a community and we must show those in the community that bigotry, hate, and racism cannot and will not be tolerated.
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.
Earlier this year, the University updated the Student Code of Conduct to outline identity-motivated bias and the sanctioning process for such incidents. As the new AUSG president, I encourage the University to work to ensure that those responsible for these despicable acts are brought to justice.
Throughout this process, I will remain as transparent as possible. As with all incidents involving the conduct process, the details of any proceedings will remain largely confidential. As I receive any updates, I will share as much as possible with the student body.
This will not be tolerated now, or ever, on the campus of American University and I will do everything in my ability to ensure that this never happens again.