White Fraternities’ Signs Trolling HBCU Sparks Heated Debate — Did They Go Too Far?

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Two Auburn University fraternities are accused of going too far after roasting their HBCU opponent with a pair of “racist” banners. Others don’t see what the big deal is, however, and chalked the harmless trolling up to a tradition among frats.

On Saturday, the Auburn Tigers hosted the Alabama State Hornets for the first game between the two schools in their history, according to The Root. The historic game also fell on Auburn University’s Black Alumni weekend, a yearly event started by Auburn’s Black graduates.

As reported by Al.com, “Inside and around the stadium, festivities were said to all-but-resemble a Black-college cookout. Players, coaches, and fans of both teams, by all accounts, showed respect and sportsmanship on a beautiful fall afternoon.”

The festivities were soured, however, after former Auburn student, Matthew Fields posted photos of two white fraternity houses displaying banners with disparaging remarks about the visiting school. One banner, hanging outside the Sigma Pi house read, “ASU GRAD RATE 27%, CHANCE OF WINNING 0%,” while the other, draped above the entrance of the Phi Sigma Kappa house, read, “G.E.D. > A.S.U. DEGREE.”

Auburn University ASU
Photos of the disparaging banners quickly went viral after they were shared on social media. (Matthew Fields / Twitter video screenshot)

The signs sparked swift backlash on Twitter from Black students and alums from both universities, who decried the banners as “racist” and “in poor taste.”

“Y’all swear Alabama is just that much more racist than Auburn,” one person tweeted. “This is on Auburn’s campus, in 2018. GED > ASU Degree?? Really??”

“So yesterday, we played Auburn and to no surprise, they took this opportunity to be RACIST,” another student wrote. “Tell me of a time when they’ve used graduation stats or equated an college degree to a GED?”

The banners also sparked reactions from folks who regarded the matter as a non-issue, saying trash-talk and roasting are common among competing schools. Critics also noted that HBCUs even take shots at one another during game time.

“I honestly don’t see a problem with this,” another Twitter user said of the signs. “This the same exact stuff [Tuskegee] and A&M say. But now that its a white school? It’s an issue? They do and say stuff like this to everyone they play. If you think this bad, you should see the stuff they say to [Alabama] and the SEC teams.”

“Everybody & they mama talk about ASU accreditation, but soooooon as Auburn say something it’s ‘a subliminal racist message,’ ” another person chimed in.

One student said he didn’t think Auburn was racist at all, recalling how the predominately white school “cheered us on and everything [and] respected we was getting exposure for playing them. Crowd was nicer then I thought honestly.

“Y’all wanna make Auburn racist so baddddd, but they loved us man y’all relax lmao,” he continued.

Auburn University later addressed the controversy in a statement, saying, ” [we’re] committed to upholding a nurturing community supportive of fundamental dignities and promoting integrity, responsibility and mutual respect. We take seriously all reports of potential student conduct policy violations and investigate them fully to uphold the values and standards of the Auburn family.”

It’s unclear whether the two fraternities will be disciplined.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to name the two fraternities involved. 

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