Student identified in alleged racist banana incident

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office will decide if criminal charges are possible.

Two incidents that took place in Morgan Hall are being investigated by Temple Police and the university. | COURTNEY SUMMERS / FILE PHOTO

Temple Police has identified a male student who allegedly placed bananas on door handles in Morgan Hall North last week, but the investigation into whether the act was racially motivated is ongoing.

Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office will have to decide if the student will be charged with a crime at this point in the investigation.

Madi Brown, an undeclared freshman in the Fox School of Business who lives in the room where a banana was left on the door handle on Sept. 11, met with TUPD detectives and two roommates on Monday to discuss the possibility of pressing charges against the student.

Brown said TUPD is waiting to see if she and her roommates can press criminal charges and that there could be a Student Conduct Board hearing for the student this week. TUPD notified Brown and her roommates of the student’s identity.

Leone said he did not attend the Monday meeting and could not confirm this information.

Brown said three out of the four students in her room are considering pressing charges if possible.

“I’m not here to ruin his life,” Brown added. “I just want something done.”

Brown’s roommate came home from grocery shopping on Sept. 11 to discover a banana on their door handle. They are the only all-Black room on their floor, and the accused student lived on the same floor as them.

Another banana was placed on a door handle of another room later in the week, which prompted an investigation by TUPD and University Housing and Residential Life, UHRL Director Kevin Williams told The Temple News last week.

The use of bananas as a racial epithet against African-American students has occurred on other college campuses, like American University in Washington, D.C. in May. Bananas were hung in nooses from trees on the same day a Black student became student government president at the university. Earlier that year, a white student at the same school left a banana at the door of a Black student, the New York Times reported.

Halle Ray, a freshman social work major and Brown’s roommate, did not want to release the student’s name.

“A lot of people have been negative,” Ray added. “What he did was wrong, but I don’t want to see anything bad happen to him.”

Ray said she’s known the student since move-in because her floor’s resident assistant held an event with all the residents on Ray’s floor.

Ray and Brown both said TUPD and the university have been supportive of them in this situation.

The Resident Assistants and Peer Mentors of Color released a statement on Sunday that denounced the alleged incident that happened in a residence hall.

“This behavior is repugnant and will not be tolerated or condoned by the RAs/PMs of Color,” the statement from 20 UHRL student employees read.

Ray said the university took action when her tweet of the banana on her door handle went “viral,” with about 400 retweets and 320 likes. She tweeted a photo of the banana, 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).”

Other university organizations also released statements denouncing the incidents as racist and intimidating.

Temple Student Government released a statement on Twitter about the incidents last Wednesday, writing “how deeply we are disturbed by the racism and intimidation that was demonstrated that evening.”

“As a student body, we must condemn such hateful behavior and in the face of diversity, rise above and continue to educate and support each other,” the statement read.

Williams told The Temple News last week that UHRL was offering support for the students affected by the alleged racially motivated incident.

Williams said on Sunday he could not provide any comment at this time because of TUPD’s ongoing investigation.

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