University of Virginia Response

Members of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Tau Theta Chapter located at the University of Virginia were recent targets of a racially motivated incident that took place at a nearby landmark, called Beta Bridge. In commemoration of our 99th Founders’ Day celebration, the Tau Theta Chapter decorated Beta Bridge with a Zeta-inspired design and message that was soon vandalized with a hate-filled message. This type of message is used frequently by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. stands firmly against racism and racially motivated actions that are used to inspire more harm in our communities. Since our inception we have successfully fostered a spirit of activism that was more formally introduced to the public through our GET ENGAGED™ social action program. In support of our sisters in Charlottesville, VA, we encourage Zeta members across the country to act in honor of our GET ENGAGED™ platform. The events that took place in Charlottesville, VA are just one example of the continued strife that we face in our communities each day. As Zetas we must continue our work of shining a light on these injustices and putting forth messages of unity, acceptance for all and inclusivity that will counteract negative actions.

The actions of hate groups cause separation, anger and misunderstandings within our communities. First and foremost, we must not justify their acts with a counter response of hatred. As International President, I established personal contact with our undergraduate and graduate chapter members at the University of Virginia. Plans are also underway for me to visit the campus to discuss this matter with the university’s administration and to ensure that our sisters are supported.

Tau Theta chapter has organized a time to repaint Beta Bridge in celebration of Founders’ Day.  I am proud that Tau Theta chapter has exercised risk management techniques in planning the event, and I encourage all of us to support them in being good stewards of our collective reputation as members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

Most immediately, here are two examples of how we can harness the power of our sisterhood to bring forth a positive message.

On Social Media:

  • Using #BetaBridgeUnitesUsAll, we ask that each member of Zeta Phi Beta share a message of support and inspiration for our University of Virginia undergraduate sisters on social media. Please keep messages positive. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. stands firm against the belief that you can fight hate with more hate. When using the hashtag, please follow our social media guidelines. Images of the bridge before it was vandalized or photos of your chapter doing the work of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. should be used in social media posts.

In Your Community:

  • Incorporate community conversations about racial tensions in your area as part of upcoming Black History Month programs. Social discourse is the first step in building understanding in our communities. I encourage chapters to use their influence to promote healing and positive dialogue in the coming weeks and months.

Below are additional resources that can be utilized when discussing racial bias and discrimination:

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