ABS statement on SAE pledge incident
Dear Administrators, Faculty and Staff,
In light of the recent incident that occurred on February 26, 2013 involving members of our General Body and the current pledge class of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), the Association of Black Students (ABS) is deeply disappointed in the actions of our peers and wishes to express our concern on behalf of our members.
Washington University in St. Louis has a mission of welcoming students “from all backgrounds to create an inclusive community that is welcoming, nurturing, and intellectually rigorous…[and] to provide an exemplary, respectful, and responsive environment for living, teaching, learning, and working for present and future generations.1” The incident that occurred is not in accordance with the principles of the University, the expectations of the student body, nor the standards for a welcoming and respectful environment among members of ABS. As a result, we believe that everyone – the administration and students – must take unequivocal action in resolving this issue of ignorance and racism.
While this incident is not representative of all members of SAE nor the values of the organization as a whole, it is the standpoint of ABS that the members responsible for this reprehensible behavior must be held accountable for their actions. It is our expectation that the administration will suspend both the primary students directly involved in the incident and those that specifically gave the directive for the task of concern.
We feel that this is not an isolated occurrence but rather a microcosm of other events that have happened on campus; thus, it is essential that we move forward with developing a clear plan of action to address future instances of discrimination and bias. To that end, ABS is committed to being a strong partner in moving forward with our disciplinary expectations and specific requests for structural changes at the University. This includes, but is not limited to, the development of an Office of Diversity and Inclusion, an amended University policy plan that addresses issues of diversity, and a student review board for discriminatory acts that serves as an administrative liaison. We are currently in discussion with other student groups, administrators, and the leadership of SAE.
ABS members, along with our community partners, have expressed feelings of sadness and anger at the events that took place, and the ABS General Body is not only disappointed but extremely offended by the normalized culture in which this event occurred. Furthermore, we are committed to challenging and reshaping this culture at Washington University. At this time, ABS is focused on supporting the involved members and the General Body as a whole while working to ensure that such incidents do not happen in the future. We are greatly appreciative of the outpour of support from Vice Chancellor for Students, Sharon Stahl, Residential Life, Campus Life and Student Involvement & Leadership, as well as other student groups.
We also want to use this opportunity to remind our fellow students that it is up to us to create, foster, and uphold a respectful and inclusive community in which all students feel welcomed, supported and celebrated in their identities. ABS welcomes all groups wanting to collaborate with us on improving dialogue, implementing productive programming, and creating initiatives that strengthen the diversity and inclusion on our campus.
It is our organization’s mission to give voice and power to, address the needs of, and supplement the experience of Black students at Washington University. In doing so, we believe that we strengthen the entire Washington University community. For more information about ABS, please contact [email protected]
Ashley Fox, Vice-President