Students at George Washington University expressed outrage Thursday when a picture circulated on social media showing a racist message.
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.’”
“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,” George Washington University Provost Forrest Maltzman said in a statement.
“Since the report, we have been in active dialogue with the national headquarters of Alpha Phi and students on campus who have been affected. We take this very seriously,” Maltzman said.
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 planned to hold a meeting at 8 p.m. Thursday 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.
The university’s Alpha Phi chapter disabled its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
“On behalf of the GW Panhellenic Community, we apologize for the hurt and anger caused by this photo. As an organization that seeks to promote connection and empowerment of all people, this photo runs directly counter to our values and cannot be tolerated,” the GW Panhellenic Association said in a statement on Facebook.
“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.
It is not known who took or captioned the photo or what their relationship is to the women pictured.
News4’s Jackie Bensen is attending the student meeting and will have updates on News4 at 11. Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for updates to this developing story.