Hampton Ladies Do Not Twerk
Viral image showing slide informing an audience that "Hampton Ladies Do Not Twerk."

In a humorous series of images that went viral, it seemed that the administrators of Hampton University were ordering their female students not to “twerk.” It turns out that this was not the case.

The rhythmic dance, which consists of gyrating one’s bottom in a manner people find titillating or raunchy, has captured the public’s imagination in such a manner that Hampton’s administration saw it as a fitting theme for discussing online etiquette. This, and nothing more, said Yuri Rodgers Milligan, Director of University Relations at Hampton University.

Hampton University has not banned twerking, as some believed.

“There is picture [sic] of a slide circulating on social media sites that was a part of a presentation to Hampton University freshmen,” Mulligan confirmed in a statement sent to theGrio and other outlets. “The slide has been taken out of context.  The presentation was on social media and cyber bullying and was titled ‘Sharing Your World Technologically.’ The presenter was cautioning students about posting information and or [sic] pictures, that would tarnish their brand, on social media sites.  The slide referenced ‘twerking’ because of recent events and to get students’ attention.  There was no statement about banning any form of dance or expression.”

In a recent essay on the widespread belief that Hampton had instituted such a ban, Grio essayist Theodore R. Johnson predicted as much.

“First,” Johnson wrote, “here is what is certain: the presenter at Hampton University (which happens to be my undergraduate alma mater, so I speak from experience) is using humor and colloquialisms to do one of the most important things to be accomplished in a student’s first week at college: connect. This is especially important at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) where low teacher-student ratios and close-knit campus environments remain two of the strongest points of their appeal.

“The pop culture reference to twerking was an attempt at connection with the students – a technique that has proven benefits on retention and graduation,” he concluded. And he was right.

By joking with students, Hampton was likely able to get its points across about correct online conduct. This was not a polemic against twerking, even though many today feel there is space for such condemnation.

Even though the general public continues to be mesmerized by twerking, or at least its popularized facsimile as has been promoted by Miley Cyrus, within the black community it seems that this dance is being kept where it belongs — in the realm of things not to be taken too seriously.

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.