The Pi Beta Phi sorority at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, is facing multiple sanctions after members of the organization were seen in a racist video posted on Instagram on January 11, 2019. The video shows a large group of girls jumping and singing to the song “Mo Bamba.” The original version of the song contains the use of a racial slur at least 11 times. The “sanitized” version of the song was often played at Baylor athletic games, but has since been banned from university athletics playlists.
Kevin P Jackson, vice president for student life at Baylor released a statement regarding the incident. According to Dr. Jackson, the organization “has taken responsibility for their actions” and, “in coordination with the university, has identified internal accountability practices, cultural awareness education and ways to address the individuals responsible and the organizational culture that resulted in racially insensitive behavior.”
These sanctions include the cancellation of the sorority’s major spring social event. The funds from that event will instead go towards a mandatory cultural awareness program for the organization’s members. Additionally, Pi Beta Phi will partner with Multicultural Affairs and other university organizations to host a cultural awareness program for the entire Baylor student body.
Dr. Jackson concluded by stating “This incident does not in any way reflect Baylor’s institutional values. We are deeply disappointed because we have high standards of conduct for our students and the organizations to which they belong. Baylor is strongly committed to our Christian mission, which includes understanding the importance of cultural sensitivity and ensuring we are respectful of the words that we use and their potential effect on others.”
The NAACP chapter at Baylor also released a statement regarding the incident. “This behavior cannot be overlooked nor is it appreciated and will not be tolerated,” the statement reads. “The N-word has been coined a principle term for White racism and has been used to perpetuate hierarchy around the world. Baylor University prides itself on being a caring community, but this video, as well as other instances, such as cultural appropriation and awareness, have proven to be a weakness to that value.”