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Sorority Receives Backlash Over Fountain Photo


Freedom Plaza Fountain, courtesy of Belmont's website

The Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority came under scrutiny recently after an Instagram post showed members standing in the Freedom Plaza Fountain. 

 

“We found that the post was very distasteful and disrespectful to the dedication of the enslaved people here at Belmont’s campus and as a student body I think we should take into consideration the historical context and honor it,” said Black Student Association President Esther Gitimu. 

 

The sorority posted a picture on Instagram on Thursday of 11 senior members standing in the fountain but after criticism removed the photo. 

 

“While our intent was not to be disrespectful, we acknowledge that was the impact of taking and posting this photo. We apologize for any harmful impact this has had on anyone,” said Ally Newkirk president of Belmont’s chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta. “We plan to use this as an opportunity to educate our members on Freedom Plaza and appropriately honor its meaning moving forward.” 

 

BSA publicist Arrianna Dean said the sorority most likely thought the pictures were harmless because the meaning of the fountain is not widely known around campus. 

 

The fountain was dedicated in 2021 to the enslaved individuals who labored on Belmont’s land when it was owned by Adelicia and Joseph Acklen. The plaza has had issues in the past with students standing and jumping into the fountain which is technically not outlined as an illegal act on campus but is deterred by campus security. Some students say this is from a lack of awareness of the space. 

 

“I think now, we're saying enough is enough, we’re tired of being ignorant and letting ignorance just slide,” Gitimu said. 


Belmont University’s Chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council released a statement outlining support for African American students on campus and the continued efforts to discuss and recognize issues of racial justice and equity. 

 

“The Belmont University Chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council reaffirms our commitment to uplifting the voices of the marginalized, advocating for social justice and working towards a future where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect,” it said in a statement. 

 

Since the fountain’s virtual ceremony in 2021, some students have said that the follow up regarding the fountain and its purpose has led to a lack of understanding for some students.  

 

“The best way to bring awareness to our fountain is to just simply spread its meaning,” said Dean. “Once it’s mentioned, it’s bound to catch attention.” 

 

Though there isn’t an explicit rule in the Bruin Code against fountain standing or jumping, it is still not an encouraged act on campus and officers will ask students who do this to exit the fountain. 

 

“You're failing to obey the lawful order given by a security officer which then can lead to a community conduct report,” Sgt. Bill Fruin of Campus Security said. 

 

Moving forward, BSA is looking to work with other organizations to continue to spread information and education on the fountain to bring further awareness. 

 

“We've taken this as a personal matter and we've emailed D’Angelo Taylor with the HUB and for next semester, we are working to enlighten the incoming freshmen,” Gitimu said. 


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This article was written by Braden Simmons with contributory reporting from Seth Thorpe

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