By Stephen Fowler and Sonam Vashi
The University is investigating a bias incident that allegedly occurred during an intramural (IM) flag football game between Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity and another group of Emory students on Monday, according to an Oct. 21 email from Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair.
The students involved were allegedly “subjected to behavior that violated [Emory] community principles of inclusivity, openness and respect,” Nair wrote.
According to Intramural Coordinator Ricky Talman, a student yelled “go back to India” to the opposing team. Talman added that IM sports stress the importance of diversity and inclusivity, and any sort of discrimination or bias acts are not tolerated.
AEPi was the target of a bias incident earlier this month on Oct. 5, where swastikas were spray-painted onto its house. The University and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Civil Rights division is investigating that incident.
“Each incident is managed individually as each is different,” Senior Associate Dean and Director of Campus Life External Relations Andy Wilson wrote in an email to the Wheel.
In Nair’s email, he explained that the University is investigating the flag football incident in accordance to Equal Opportunity and Discriminatory Harassment Policy through the bias response team, and the University is working with AEPi leadership and witnesses to identify those responsible.
The bias response team is available to “support and guide students seeking assistance in determining how to handle a bias incident” and will document incidents and meet with affected students to facilitate services, ensure safety and to provide assistance and comfort to those impacted, according to the Emory bias response website.
AEPi released a statement to the Wheel addressing the individual’s response and reassuring the Emory community of their commitment as an organization to keep Emory a safe space.
“The brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi are deeply saddened and apologetic about the incident that occurred at an intramural football game,” the statement read. “The horrific comments by no means reflect the beliefs, values or morals of our brotherhood. We will work tirelessly with Emory to ensure a community safe from bigotry and harassment.”
Emory’s Student Government Association (SGA) President and College junior Jon Darby wrote that the SGA Executive Board was “disheartened and offended by the alleged incident” at the flag football game, he wrote.
Four witnesses at the IM game declined to comment on the incident.
College junior Peter Witzig said that he thought the response from Nair and others are a result of other, more recent bias incidents.
“I think it’s a step forward, because before [the swastikas painted on AEPi’s house], it would have been nothing,” Witzig said. “I’m positive and optimistic that something happened.”
College sophomore Jasmyn Mackell feels the email and investigation are reasonable reactions.
“I would say that it’s fair, being that they’re addressing all of the issues,” Mackell said. “I just hope that they’re thoroughly looking into it rather than issuing a statement and leaving it at that.”
Mackell also said that the response to the swastika incident played a role in how Emory administration responded to this incident.
“I think that the administration wants to show that they’re angling their response unbiasedly, but we’ll only be able to tell unless more incidents happen,” Mackell said.
– By Stephen Fowler, Assistant News Editor & Sonam Vashi, Executive Editor
This article was updated at 11:16 a.m., Friday, Oct. 24 to reflect that Intramural Coordinator Ricky Talman said a student yelled “go back to India.” Talman did not say that an AEPi fraternity member yelled that statement, as the article previously reflected.