Following the news that a sorority member from George Washington University’s Alpha Phi chapter had allegedly shared a racially insensitive photo on social media, the university has spoken out against the “unacceptable” image.
According to USA 9, the image, which began circulating on Thursday, showed a white female student holding up a peeled banana with a caption reading, “I’m 1/16 black.”
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, University Provost Forrest Maltzman said that the “hurtful” image was “not reflective” of the university.
“There was an entirely inappropriate posting on social media last night,”Maltzman wrote. “Whatever the circumstance, or true intention of those involved, the image was disturbing, hurtful and not reflective of who I know we are as a community. As a university, we have emphasized our commitment to inclusion and have made clear that ‘You are Welcome Here.’ We do this through our actions and our words. Images like the one posted on social media can make people question whether they are welcome at the university, and that is unacceptable to me.
“Unfortunately, we have heard and read about too many instances of racist language and imagery on college campuses,” he continued. “They reflect the need for an ongoing discourse about race. Universities are special places that thrive because of the diverse perspectives and background of those who study, teach, research and work on those campuses.”
Maltzman also added that the university has been in “active dialogue with the national headquarters of Alpha Phi and students on campus who have been affected” and that they were taking the situation “very seriously.”
RELATED VIDEO: Alabama Sorority Sister, 19, Expelled From University After Posting Racist Videos on MLK Day
Additionally, GWU’s chapter of Alpha Phi issued their own statement on Friday apologizing “for the actions of our members.”
“On January 31, 2018, a member of our chapter posted a racist image on snapchat that contained two other members in our chapter engaged in offensive and inexcusable behavior. We apologize for the delay in posting this response,” Alpha Phi wrote on Facebook.
“We want to take this opportunity to apologize without qualification and take responsibility for the actions of our members. 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.” the sorority continued.
The sorority went on to note that “three members in question are in the process of having their membership terminated.”
“We recognize that there are issues within our organization relating to our privilege and lack of diversity, and we are committed to listening to the voices of those who have been harmed by the actions of those individuals and by our actions as a chapter,” Alpha Phi continued.
“At this time, we have reached out to the Multicultural Student Services Center in an effort to begin the process towards reconciliation and reeducation,” they added.
RELATED VIDEO: University Of Oklahoma Fraternity Closed Over Racist Video
The University’s Black Student Union has also spoken out about the photo noting that it was “a shame we have to start Black History Month off with racially insensitive content posted by some members of our community here at GW.”
“Unfortunately, racially charged incidents including bananas and Black students continue to arise at college campuses across the country. These acts are ignorant,” the Student Union continued in a social media post, before adding that they would be “working to assure that the institution acts accordingly.”
According to NBC News4, Student Association senator Imani Ross said that although “university administrators have begun the process of investigating and handling the matter,” the situation “is deeply troubling, especially after Alpha Phi recently attended a diversity training on campus this past month.”
Ross also told the Washington Post that although students have “been enraged that this occurred,” she hoped “that this incident can open more doors for productive conversation about diversity and inclusion on campus.”