For the second time this school year, the black students of the American University in Washington, DC were the target of a racist act and hateful on campus.
On Monday, pictures of bananas dangling from ropes circulated online, with the words "AKA," the predominantly African-American Alpha Kappa Alpha fraternity, and "Harambe," an apparent reference to the gorilla that Cincinnati Zoo officers killed last year. The bananas were found at a bus stop, a dining hall and near a university residence.
The "despicable" act came just weeks after an election in which Taylor Dumpson, a third-year student and member of society, became the first black woman president of student government at American University.
"I regret that this has happened, I apologize to all the offended and emphatically stated that this incident does not reflect what the American University really is," said University President Neil Kerwin in a press release. "While this incident pointed to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority AU chapter … and it happened after the first black woman and AKA member swore as president of the student government: our entire university community has been negatively affected by this cowardly act and despicable. "
The students and the defenders said they were horrified, but not surprised. Similar incidents occurred in September; it was reported that a rotten banana was thrown at a black student, and another said that a rotten banana was left on the door of his bedroom.
At that time, the American University Black Student Alliance condemned the school's lack of response to a culture of intolerant behavior on campus. In 2015, racist epithets were written on the doors of dormitories of black students.
On Monday, Dumpson urged the university to work harder for its students.
"This is not what I imagined would be my first letter to all of you," he wrote on the student government website. "In my first message to the student body, I would have liked to talk about responsibility, transparency, accessibility and inclusion, and now more than ever, we must make sure that our community members feel welcome and, above all, safe on this campus."
University officials planned to hold a series of meetings on Tuesday with campus leaders and people, no suspects were mentioned in any of their reports, but students were urged to call to the campus police with some advice.