George Washington University to Implement Mandatory Diversity Training

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks on the campus of The George Washington University / Getty Images

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A picture on social media of a banana peel taken in a George Washington University sorority house has led to a raft of diversity initiatives by the administration, and sanctions threatened against those involved.

GW President Thomas LeBlanc announced Wednesday that all incoming freshman will receive mandatory diversity training beginning in the fall, after a Snapchat image was posted last week that depicted two Alpha Phi members in the sorority's campus townhouse, one holding a banana peel, the photo captioned "Izzy: ‘I'm 1/16 black.'"

Diversity training will also be required for staff "who work closely with students," including residential life staff, admissions officers, and tour guides. Greek life officials will also have to undergo such training.

The details of how and when the training will be carried out have yet to be determined.

Additionally, GW will undertake a review and update of university policies and student code of conduct regarding non-sex based harassment and discrimination, and a bias incident reporting system will be established to allow students to file anonymous allegations against their peers.

In his statement, LeBlanc called "the image offensive and racially inflammatory—resulting in great harm to our community."

After a speedy "fact-finding process," LeBlanc noted it was determined the students in the image did not have knowledge of or approve the caption.

The announcement came after the Student Association Senate unanimously passed a resolution Monday calling for mandatory diversity training for all Greek life members and chapters.

The Panhallenic Association and Alpha Phi have both apologized for the incident, the latter promising that the three unidentified women involved in the incident were in the process of having their membership terminated.

"We are culpable for this action as a group in which a few felt comfortable making a joke that was distinctly racist, ignorant, and harmful. We are in no way trying to contextualize, excuse, or forgive the events that occurred," wrote Alpha Phi in a statement last week.

Still, at the Senate meeting, the student representatives voted unanimously that Alpha Phi ought to be disbanded, and for a task force to be formed to investigate discrimination in Greek life.

The resolution to "tackle institutional racism" also included the demand for GW to hire a person of color as the new university dean.

In his announcement, LeBlanc vowed to "make documented leadership skills in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion a required core competency of the position."

LeBlanc has indicated approval of the SA recommendations and his administrative decisions were based on the resolution's demands.

The students involved in the photo may face further disciplinary action, with GW spokesperson Lindsay Hamilton saying earlier this week that conversations were ongoing "to determine appropriate next steps."

The incident has been called a "reckoning" for a sorority with a history of being "unwelcoming" for minority students, the GW Hatchet reported.

Rachel Frommer

Rachel Frommer   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Rachel Frommer is a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon reporting on campus issues, including anti-free speech and anti-Israel activity. Prior to the Free Beacon, she was the senior campus correspondent at The Algemeiner. Her work has been picked up by Fox News, Newsweek, and the New York Post. She graduated from Touro College in 2016 with a BA in English literature. Her Twitter handle is @Rachel_Frommer, and her email address is frommer@freebeacon.com.

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