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University, TUPD investigate two ‘bias-related’ incidents in residence hall

There were two incidents where bananas were left on students’ doors in Morgan Hall.

Temple Police and University Housing and Residential Life are investigating two alleged “bias-related” incidents that occurred in Morgan Hall North this week.

On Monday, a banana was left on the door handle of a room of four Black students.

A similar incident where another banana was left at a dorm room in Morgan Hall occurred later this week, which prompted Temple Police to investigate the alleged bias-related incidents, said Kevin Williams, the director for University Housing and Residential Life.

The student or students who allegedly left the bananas at the doors of students is still unknown, and UHRL is working with TUPD to investigate the incidents and offering support for the students affected, Williams said.

Williams sent out a statement via email to students in on-campus housing about inclusivity in their halls Thursday afternoon.

In the statement, Williams wrote, “Within the past week, there have been several instances of inappropriate and arguably discriminatory behavior.”

“This email is a reminder that all residence halls…are inclusive environments that promote safety and respect for all members of the community,” according to the statement.

At the end of the statement, Williams linked resources like the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, Tuttleman Counseling Services and the Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Equality, Advocacy and Leadership.

Monday’s alleged bias-related incident occurred not even three weeks into classes for freshman social work major Halle Ray, whose roommate found a banana on their door handle Monday evening.

Madison Brown, a freshman undeclared business major and one of Ray’s roommate, said they are the only dorm room with all Black students on their floor.

Similar incidents have occurred at other predominantly white institutions. In May, students hung bananas in nooses from trees at American University in Washington D.C., the same day a Black woman became student government president. Earlier that year, a white student left a banana outside a Black student’s dorm, the New York Times reported.

“I was mad, but I had to calm down,” Ray said. “We just had to think things through, like what are we gonna do next?”

Brown said she did not sense any “racial tension” on their floor.

“Although we are the only Black room on the floor, I did not think anything like that would happen,” Brown said.

Ray took to Twitter Monday night, writing, “I go to Temple University, my roommates come back from grocery shopping and see this (we’re the only black girls on our floor),” along with a picture of the banana that was put on their door handle.

“I just wanted people to be aware that stuff like this does happen, especially if you are a minority on a [predominantly white institution],” Ray told The Temple News. “If I wasn’t strong, if I cared about what people thought, it could have become bigger than what it is now.”

“You can’t do stuff like that because you never know what somebody is going to do,” she added.

Brown said she does not think this was an act of intimidation.

“Like I said before, people have been genuinely nice on the floor. It could have been out of pure ignorance,” she said.

Ray said that Temple’s nickname of being Philadelphia’s “diversity university” is not enough.

“I just want the university to speak out more about it,” she said. “We understand Temple is ‘diversity university,’ but I want them to go deeper than that. It’s not all happy because stuff like this happens. ‘Diversity university’ can’t cover stuff like this. This is real.”

Temple Student Government released a statement, stating what happened to the students is “racism and intimidation.”

“As a student body we must condemn such hateful behavior and in the face of adversity, rise above and continue to educate and support each other. We encourage all students to speak up and out against racism, white supremacy and bigotry,” the statement read.

TSG said they are planning a community forum discuss diversity and inclusion at the university, according to the statement.   

Temple Progressive NAACP issued a statement of support for the Ray, Brown and their roommates and denounced what had happened to the students, writing, “This behavior is unacceptable and the Progressive NAACP does not condone it in any way, shape or form.”

The organization urged the university to “investigate and take measures towards disciplinary action against those involved,” according to the statement.

“I’m still here, I’m not leaving,” Ray said.

“I just want people, minorities, to know, don’t be scared when stuff like this happens,” she added. “People who do stuff like this, you have to chill, like what are you doing? You’re jeopardizing your identity on campus. You’re going to get in trouble.”

Kelly Brennan

can be reached at kelly.brennan@temple.edu
Or you can follow Kelly on Twitter @_kellybrennan
Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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