When president of the Black Student Union Phillip Wells saw a photo of four sorority sisters wearing shirts that read "trap queen," his first thought was to analyze it.
Wells, a UF telecommunication senior, said his friends sent him the photo of the Chi Omega Sorority women when it was posted recently. The photo was taken down shortly after the photo’s trap-queen message was called offensive. "Trap queen" refers to a woman who runs a house where drugs are made and sold, alongside a drug lord.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said UF is aware of the photo, and Student Activities and Involvement and the Bias Education and Response Team are working with Chi Omega.
"We understand there was no intention to offend anyone, but we’re using this opportunity as a time for education," she said.
Sikes said UF responds to what others deem offensive, not what the university deems offensive.
Wells, 21, said the girls were wearing hats written with the titles "little," "big," "grand big" and "great grand big." The "great grand big" posted the photo on Facebook, captioning it with, "I guess I’m collecting social security and medicare now #GG."
He said he didn’t personally find the photo offensive, but the reference to government assistance along with the words "trap queen" offended many in BSU.
While UF’s chapter of Chi Omega did not respond to requests for comment, Whitney Plumpton, the director of marketing and public relations for Chi Omega’s executive headquarters, wrote in an email that the executive headquarters agrees with Sikes’ statement. Plumpton said the executive headquarters concluded the picture was not posted with any malicious or racist intentions.
Wells said he’d be open to a BSU and Chi Omega co-sponsored educational forum.
"We’re in different student organizations, but we’re not that different in relation to this university," he said. "I think that we can reach out to one another and educate each other."