Acts of hatred toward African American students were found on the campus of American University on Monday.
Bananas hanging by string in the shape of nooses were found in at least three locations on campus.
The bananas were marked with the letters “AKA” which represent Alpha Kappa Alpha, a sorority whose members are predominantly African American.
This comes the same day that the university’s first black female student government president, Taylor Dumpson, took office, who is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
This is not the first racial incident involving bananas reported at American University. Last September, a banana was thrown at a black student who was among a group from the Black Student Alliance preparing for a demonstration. There was also a report of a banana being placed near another black female student’s door.
A university spokesperson told FOX 5 that the bananas were found in three different locations on campus — at a shuttle bus stop at Letts-Anderson Halls, in front of Mary Graydon Center and near the East Quad Building.
American University President Neil Kerwin issued a statement on the racist incident:
The crude and racially insensitive act of bigotry reported this morning is under investigation by AU Campus Police with assistance from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and other AU offices and senior officials.
We strongly condemn what happened; will do all that we can to find those responsible; and ask that anyone who may know of those involved to please step forward and contact Public Safety at 202-885-2527 or the AUPD Tips Site.
We will alert the university community of the investigation’s findings and next steps and will respond as swiftly and strongly as possible.
Racially charged acts of bigotry are done to instill fear and inflict pain in our community—especially at stressful times, such as at the end of the term.
I regret this happened, apologize to everyone offended, and state emphatically that this incident does not reflect what American University truly is. While this incident targeted AU’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and occurred after the first black woman and AKA member was sworn in as the Student Government president—our entire university community has been adversely affected by this cowardly, despicable act.
There will be a campus community meeting on Tuesday, May 2 to discuss the incident at 12 noon in Kay Chapel. Members of the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion (PCDI) will be in attendance. PCDI will also host one-on-one drop in conversations at 6 p.m. at a table in McDowell Hall—as part of the PCDI Listens series.
Know that American University remains committed to principles of diversity, inclusion, common courtesy, and human dignity, and acts of bigotry only strengthen our resolve. Anyone who does not feel similarly does not belong here.