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SA votes to remove Alpha Phi, while one senator looks to reveal a 'cover-up'

student government

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George Washington University

campus

SA votes to remove Alpha Phi, while one senator looks to reveal a 'cover-up'

The SA unanimously voted to pass the Alpha Phi Bigotry Act, but Monday night's meeting was not without contention

Brandon Bish

2.6.18

The Student Association (SA) Senate voted unanimously to pass SR-S18-07 Alpha Phi Bigotry Act Monday night at the first open full senate meeting of the semester.

The Alpha Phi Bigotry act was drafted in response to the racially insensitive Snapchat posted by three members of the Iota Iota Chapter of Alpha Phi. This resolutions’s primary objective is to demand that GW remove the Iota Iota Chapter of Alpha Phi, and make changes to student life on campus to make it more inclusive and sensitive to racial issues. The changes being demanded of GW include hiring a person of color to be the new dean of the student experience, and requiring diversity trainings for all new applicants to the Panhellenic Association and Interfraternity Council Greek chapters.

To many of the students of color packed into Funger 108, this resolution meant more than just removing one sorority from campus. It meant sending out a signal that actions deemed racist would not stand, and it meant asking people to understand the racism that students on campus face as part of their everyday life.

“This is a resolution that aims to tackle institutional racism, and how it affects diversity inclusion on campus,” said Sen. Imani Ross, U-At-Large, author of the resolution.

People lined the sides of the room, waiting for their turn to speak during comment. Many spoke and shared stories not just about how this incident impacted them, but about the racism they have faced everyday at GW.

"What are we going to do to make this school a safer place when people come after us?" asked Malcom Elashari-Rashed, president of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

As students shared stories of confrontations with racism on GW's campus, many in the audience stood and cheered them on, either clapping or snapping to show their support. Others were more emotional and cried.

One student shared how she quit her sorority after being told to “stay neutral” following the incident. This student said it was her right to be able to condemn these racist acts, and for her, there was no being neutral.
Even the senators during open discussion only spoke with support for the resolution, with some wanting to push it even farther to include mandatory diversity training as part of the curriculum for all incoming students, and further training for new applicants to Greek Life. Both of these amendments were taken up and added to the bill.

Only one student spoke during public comment who did not show support for the resolution, and he was booed and jeered from audience members.

A moment of contention arose during President Peak Sen Chua’s address when Sen. Devan Cole confronted him about a recent resignation in the SA. This resignation was not publicly announced, and the resigning member’s photo was taken off the website, and the resignation letter was not forwarded to the sitting senators as is normal, according to Cole.

Cole alleged that the resigning member was one of the girls in the Snapchat post that had set off these events. Cole held up a copy of the Snapchat post and a photo of the resigning member that had previously been on the SA's website. Photos in hand, he asked Chua if the resigning member was pictured in the Snapchat post. Chua never issued a direct response to the question.

The senators sitting around Cole took the photos for a closer look, which caused the photos to be passed around the room, landing the photos in the hands of people unaffiliated with the SA. According to Cole, his intention was not to have the photos passed around to members of the public.

“One of our very own disrespected so many students on campus,” Cole said.

Following the passage of the bill, there was a mass exodus from the 275 person capacity room. There were people cheering and shouting in excitement, feeling as though the SA had done something meaningful to support them.

"This is the perfect time for GW to be on the right side of history," said Freddy Ryle, president of the Black Student Union.



This article has been edited to reflect that President Peak Sen Chua never issued a direct response to the questions posed by Sen. Devan Cole. It has also been edited to show it was not Sen. Cole's intention to have the photos passed around to the public.