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Sorority sisters at UNH being investigated for singing N-word in online video

Union Leader Correspondent

September 20. 2017 8:52PM

DURHAM — A University of New Hampshire sorority is under investigation after a video was posted on Facebook Tuesday showing Alpha Phi members singing the rap song “Gold Digger,” which includes the N-word.

UNH spokesman Erika Mantz said Wednesday that no disciplinary action against the sorority sisters has been taken, but the incident is under review.

“We believe strongly in the right to free speech as recognized by the First Amendment, and we believe equally in the right of every member of our community to feel safe and respected. We continue to work to improve our campus culture through education, awareness and action,” Mantz said.

Dean of Students John Kirkpatrick issued a statement to members of the UNH community Tuesday night.

“The use of that word runs counter to our values. Moreover, it is a word that diminishes members of our community. The posting has been reported to the national chapter. Both the university and the national chapter are investigating this matter,” Kirkpatrick wrote.

The song “Gold Digger” was released in 2005 by rapper Kanye West and featured guest vocals by Jamie Foxx. The video was posted Tuesday by All Eyes on UNH, which says of itself on Facebook: “We are members of the UNH community that hold the mirror up to those who act unjustly.”

“The girls sing the N-word without thinking of the implications,” an administrator for the Facebook group wrote. “This is a showcase of ignorance and that the Panhellenic Council should do better in combatting racism. The first step is addressing willful ignorance.”

Officials at the national Alpha Phi headquarters in Evanston, Ill., did not return a reporter’s phone call. No members of the UNH Panhellenic Council responded to messages sent online. Sisters at Alpha Phi also did not return a request for comment.

UNH President Mark Huddleston has charged the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate with identifying issues of race, inclusion and civility on campus and making recommendations for action. He is asking that a final report be completed by Jan. 19, 2018.

The task force released an interim report earlier this month in which it stated: 

“As UNH continues to move away from the mindset of diversity as ‘add on,’ we are developing the understanding that diversity and inclusion are critical threads woven consistently throughout the entire fabric of UNH. By doing so, we ensure that diversity/inclusive excellence and pluralism are valued and presented as institutional priorities that will be addressed in all aspects of the life of the University,” the report states.

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