On the way to a philanthropy event Tuesday, sorority sisters and fraternity brothers from Western Kentucky University were met with protesters demanding removal of Alpha Xi Delta from campus over a video showing members using a racial slur.
The six-second video posted to Twitter on Aug. 30 shows some Alpha Xi Delta (AXiD) members using the N-word three times while singing part of the song “My Type” by Saweetie.
WKU spokesman Bob Skipper told the Daily News the university discovered the video the day it was posted but took “some time” to ensure the students were from WKU.
Once confirmed, sorority leadership and the chapter president met with WKU student activities staff to discuss “how the video could be considered offensive.”
He said WKU decided not to take any action because “there was no malice in the sorority’s action. They were (singing) lyrics to a song at a party, not directing insults toward anyone. This was considered an opportunity to teach and any discipline was left up to the sorority’s national organization.”
Student Government Association member Symone Taqwa Whalin said she and others decided to form a protest at the Kappa Delta Chapter “Shenanigans” fundraising event because they did not agree with how the incident was handled.
“(WKU) chose to use it as a ‘learning opportunity,’ ” Whalin said. “But we’re 18, 20, 21 years old, we had enough time to learn. If you keep pushing it back as a learning opportunity, it keeps breeding racism. … You know the implications of that word by now, even if it’s in a song.”
The video was originally posted to Snapchat by an AXiD member, but another person screen-recorded and posted it to Twitter, according to Whalin.
As of Wednesday, the video has more than 43,000 views, 700 likes and 300 retweets.
“Initially it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if they got punished and (AXiD) were like, ‘we’re sorry for our actions,’ ” Whalin said. “(But) if WKU wants to actually show that they care about minority students, they will stop letting continuous instances of racism happen.”
She noted that four members of Delta Zeta at the University of Miami were kicked out of the sorority last year after a video uploaded to social media showed them saying the N-word while singing the song “Freaky Friday” by Chris Brown and Lil Dicky.
As the sun went down Tuesday outside the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, protesters held signs that read “N-word is not your word“ and “Bob Skipper Act!” while yelling chants including “AZD seems racist to me.”
Members of the Greek community were advised not to engage with the protesters, according to Whalin, but some others passing by laughed and cursed at them.
Whalin said she also recently learned WKU did not take action over another video posted to Snapchat 10 days before the first video showing an individual member of Chi Omega using a racial slur while singing the song “Act Up” by City Girls.
Skipper confirmed WKU discovered that video the day it was posted and again found it was not made with “malice” and left any disciplinary action up to the national organization. But this time student activities staff talked about the potential offensive nature of the video with the sorority chapter president and members, not leadership.
He said both videos were cases “in which students were singing the lyrics to a song without considering how the lyrics could be considered offensive” and he’s unaware of any similar occurrences in the past.
Both national organizations for AXiD and Chi Omega did not immediately respond to phone and email requests for comment Wednesday.
Whalin said Kappa Delta members who organized the philanthropy event invited her to teach a workshop about why she protested and how the videos are a problem.