An unidentified user interrupted a virtual “Meet the Greeks” information session Monday night held by the University’s National Panhellenic Council — an umbrella organization for historically predominantly Black Greek organizations — and repeatedly shouted a racist slur, according to a University-wide email sent Tuesday morning by Dean of Students Allen Groves, Kevin McDonald, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and community partnerships, and Maurice Apprey, dean of the Office of African-American Affairs. When the student host of the meeting tried to remove the individual, the same racist message appeared on the screen in red letters.
In a statement to The Cavalier Daily, Danielle Muriel, NPHC president and a fourth-year College student, said that she was unable to continue with the information session because everyone was uncomfortable.
“It’s sad that opportunity and peace of mind is constantly robbed of us,” Muriel said. “Black students should be able to go to information sessions and go to bed afterwards unbothered.”
In their email condemning the incident, Groves, McDonald and Apprey said that the University’s NPHC chapters are “no strangers to being targeted by racist hatred,” citing the vandalization of a message originally painted by Zeta Phi Beta on Beta Bridge in January 2019 to commemorate the historically Black sorority’s founding. The sorority’s message was painted over with the words “it’s OK to be white” — a white supremacist slogan.
The email also acknowledged that this was not an isolated event — last May, a Student Council town hall held to discuss the Fall 2020 Committee was disrupted by numerous users using racial slurs.
The email added that the University is working to identify the individual and whether they are affiliated with the University community. Groves, McDonald and Apprey said that these individuals are believed to be unaffiliated with the University and located outside of the United States.
“We stand with our National Pan-Hellenic Council chapters, the students who find a home in these historic groups and all Black students who have been impacted by acts of hatred, and we condemn the actions of those who seek to divide our community and make anyone feel unwelcome or unsafe here,” the email said.
Muriel said that she hopes to put on another event in the future with stricter safety measures, but added that she hopes the University is able to enforce repercussions for hate speech in the future.
“It seems like people who commit these acts of hatred against us are constantly let off the hook or able to escape any repercussions under ‘freedom of speech.’” Muriel said. “But these acts impact real people in real ways, including our grades and mental health, and they must stop.”
This article has been updated.