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Old Dominion University to review entire Greek community after allegation of racist behavior

On Wednesday, the student body can attend a forum called “Justice,” which will be held on campus from 7:30 to 9 p.m. There will be a panel of student leaders and members of the administration to discuss race-related issues and answer questions from the audience. “Honestly, I just wanted to have the forum because this […]

On Wednesday, the student body can attend a forum called “Justice,” which will be held on campus from 7:30 to 9 p.m. There will be a panel of student leaders and members of the administration to discuss race-related issues and answer questions from the audience.

“Honestly, I just wanted to have the forum because this isn’t the first incident that ODU has had,” said ODU junior Taylor Clark, who helped to organize the forum. “Every incident we’ve had, it gets on the news and talked about for a little bit, then goes away.”

Clark said she met with members of the school’s administration Monday. She was joined by Marquise Hunt, who’s from Hampton Roads and sits on the national youth committee of the NAACP.

Hunt said he hopes the forum gives students the chance to come forward with any concerns they have. That way, the administration can create policies to prevent something like this incident from happening again.

Clark said she would like to see the school have an anonymous messaging system for students, and members of the Greek community, to come forward if they’ve been bullied or experienced racism in any way.

“I do expect change to occur,” Clark said.

Broderick’s letter and the Alpha Phi situation will also be the topic of a student-run radio show.

Alexis Dawson, a sophomore studying mass communications at Old Dominion University, plans to talk about it next Tuesday on the show she co-hosts called Tea Table.

Dawson, who’s not in a sorority, said she considers Broderick’s letter and other steps the university is taking as moves in the right direction.

“Being a sorority member is more like a privilege,” Dawson said. “You’re supposed to represent the community and if you’re being racist, that’s not how I want the school I go to to be represented.”

Broderick wrote that ODU officials plan to hold “educational campus conversations” partnering with student organizations this spring to discuss “racist manifestations of bias, bigotry, and bullying,” the data from which will inform next steps.

Saying that he was “repulsed” of alleged racist behavior at a sorority, Old Dominion University President John Broderick announced Friday that the school would review the entire Greek community at the school. 

“These unacceptable actions sharply contradict Old Dominion’s values of inclusion, diversity, and respect for the dignity of others,” Broderick wrote in an open letter. “Racist behavior goes against everything for which the Monarch community stands.”

He was referring to recent allegations that sorority members at ODU’s Alpha Phi chapter had used racist language online in the past and belittled a black member. The national Alpha Phi organization has ordered the chapter to “cease its activities,” a university spokeswoman told The Virginian-Pilot last week.

Tweets from a former ODU student prompted the situation, showing a photo of an award given out during a 2016 sorority event with a white student holding an award reading “blackest white you’ll ever meet.” In another, a re-tweet appears to show a white sorority member using the “n” word on Twitter. The tweets were later deleted.

Members of the chapter and national Alpha Phi did not respond to requests for comment at the time.

On Friday, Broderick’s letter said the university’s vice president, Ellen Neufeldt, will be “overseeing an external review of the ODU fraternity and sorority community.”

“Ensuring ODU is inclusive for all necessitates acknowledging our imperfections and addressing them head on,” Broderick wrote.

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