A viral Facebook post that shares an alleged racial incident targeting Methodist University football players has caused outrage on campus. The school on Tuesday suspended one of its sororities, pending an investigation.
The Facebook post shows a screenshot of a woman, who is white, standing in front of a large screen with the faces of four Black men, all of whom are Monarch football players, according to social media comments and interviews with students. The words, “Large Nostrils” accompany the images projected onto the screen.
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Students and comments on social media indicate that the presentation was given before a gathering of sorority members and was about things the presenter found unattractive. The presentation was also critical of dreadlock hairstyles and other physical features often associated with African Americans, according to the social media post.
Since last week, the post has been shared hundreds of times across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok.
The university has launched an investigation into an incident, though it did not confirm it was the incident in question. On Tuesday, however, President Stanley T. Wearden and Quincy Malloy, chief diversity officer, announced in a statement that the Alpha Delta Pi sorority had been suspended indefinitely, pending an investigation.
Last week, Malloy, Wearden and William H. Walker, vice president of Student Affairs, all released statements.
Malloy decried racism on campus, and stated that any such incidents are investigated.
Walker thanked the people who contacted the school “with concerns about a recent incident on our campus.”
He said the school cannot comment on cases involving students, but that all are addressed immediately.
Any investigation, Walker said, could include “application of student conduct policy and hearings. In severe cases, it might involve criminal complaint.”
Wearden wrote in his statement: “We cannot comment on any possible case involving any individual student. But I want to assure you that I take potentially racist behaviors very seriously.”
He also cautioned people against airing out the situation on social media, writing “if you really want to see a problem solved, social media is not the best place to turn.”
‘Racism has no place in our sisterhood’
The student alleged to be involved in the incident and the campus chapter of the sorority did not respond to queries made through social media on Friday. The Facebook page for the chapter has been deactivated.
Beth Wright, a spokeswoman for the national headquarters for Alpha Delta Pi, based in Atlanta, said on Friday it had suspended the membership of the student in question and suspended the Theta Epsilon chapter of the sorority at Methodist.
“Alpha Delta Pi was outraged and deeply saddened to learn of the racist behavior of a member of our Theta Epsilon chapter at Methodist University,” she wrote over email in response to questions. “Her actions directly contradict the values of Alpha Delta Pi … ”
Wright said the national organization was collaborating with the university administration as it investigates further.
“Sorority staff and volunteers are working directly with chapter members to learn more and provide support to those who have been harmed, and we are grateful for Methodist University’s partnership and professional resources available to students,” she wrote. “Racism has no place in our sisterhood, and we will continue to work for inclusive spaces and restorative justice in our chapters, on our campuses, and in our communities.”
‘What is this? Why is it deemed funny?’
Methodist student Ta-Quez Harrell, who is Black, said the picture of the presentation “was circulated to me from one of the sisters in the group.”
“My first reaction, other than pure rage, was confusion,” said Harrell, who is a fifth-year senior at Methodist, where he is double majoring in applied forensic science and justice.
He is also vice president of the Greek Council, the governing body for all fraternities and sororities at the school, according to the Methodist website. He said he had been told by his friend in the sorority that the controversial presentation was part of a group sharing that was meant to be funny.
He said his reaction, however, was; “What is this? Why is it deemed funny? What was the reasoning? Who else was a part of this? How come nobody else stopped her?”
Harrell said students are organizing on social media a gathering outside Wearden’s office at the Horner Building from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Social media posts said organizers were encouraging students to bring signs calling for the ouster of the student and sorority.
A cheerleader who is a junior at Methodist and who did not wish to be identified said she knew the football players from the screenshot. She described the mood of many people on campus, especially Black students, as angry, upset, hurt and confused — especially since the presentation attacked fellow Methodist students.
She said members of the school’s Black Student Union were focused on keeping the issue on the front burner — she worries the incident will be swept under the rug otherwise.
A prior incident
Methodist University, a private school located on Ramsey Street in Fayetteville, has nearly 2,000 students. Spokesman Brad Johnson wrote that diversity is one of the school’s “greatest qualities.”
“While most schools (local, regional and big state schools) are 55% and up with one racial/ethnic group, MU’s highest percentage race/ethnic group (white) is only 42.4%,” he wrote. “20% are black/African-American, more than 10% are international.”
Harrell said the school should remove both the student and the sorority alleged to have been involved in the image depicted on Facebook. But he is worried the university will gloss over the incident.
He said he read announcements sent out to football players as well as the school’s public statements. He said it all feels to him like “shut up and dribble, shut up and play ball,” which refers to athletes being discouraged to speak out and to just focus on sports. Harrell has played basketball and football at the university.
He cites a case last year, on Twitter, where a Methodist student disrupted a Black Lives Matter event in Connecticut by weaving through the crowd, waving a Trump flag and “screaming stuff.”
“They didn’t do anything about that, either,” Harrell said, saying officials said their hands were tied because the incident was off campus. But Harrell cited the student handbook Code of Conduct, which reads that the school “does reserve the right to take disciplinary action against students when their off-campus behavior violates University expectations and policies or when the behavior affects the University community.”
Johnson, asked about that incident, said it “occurred in the student’s home state and outside the context of the individual’s role as a student at MU in any way. Nonetheless, we addressed it internally to the extent that it was covered by our policies and rules for conduct.”
He added: “Some students may think it wasn’t handled because of the fact that we cannot and do not discuss individual student cases publicly. But all reported incidents are handled appropriately and as expeditiously as is prudent.”
Harrell, who is from Durham, said of the recent incident: “If the right consequences don’t happen, what’s the point of this?
“There is a full picture of her giving this presentation. What’s going to change if we have this and nothing happens about it?”
Opinion Editor Myron B. Pitts can be reached at email@example.com or 910-486-3559. F.T. Norton, military and public safety editor, and staff writers Ariana-Jasmine Castrellon and Akira Kyles contributed to this story.
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