Following the circulation of a viral video that showed members of the Oklahoma University chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) singing a racist chant, the university has severed ties with the fraternity and has expelled two students who participated in the chant.
David Boren, the President of OU, released a statement on Tuesday announcing the expulsion of two students who were “leaders in the singing of a racist chant.”
“I have emphasized that there is zero tolerance for this kind of threatening racist behavior at the University of Oklahoma.” Boren said. “I hope that the entire nation will join us in having zero tolerance of such racism when it raises its ugly head in other situations across the country.”
I have acted today to expel two students who were leaders in the singing of a racist chant. See press release – DBo pic.twitter.com/VypOiVqXi7
— David Boren (@President_Boren) March 10, 2015
“We will continue our investigation of all the students engaged in the singing of this chant,” Boren said. “Once their identities have been confirmed, they will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.”
Boren originally responded to the video with a statement released on Monday in which he said that the university was severing all ties with the local SAE chapter, and closing its fraternity house.
Updated statement attached – DBo pic.twitter.com/xxfiJwCh0P — David Boren (@President_Boren) March 9, 2015
In addition to the SAE members on board the bus in the video, there were women present who were initially identified as members of the sorority Delta Delta Delta. The sorority’s OU chapter released a statement to the university’s newspaper claiming that they are not under investigation by the university, and that none of their chapter members have been officially identified in the video.
On Monday, the OU football team cancelled practice to protest the racist acts. Wearing all black, and walking arm and arm, the players marched into the practice facility and declared that they would not be practicing. The move was approved by Head Football Coach Bob Stoops, who posted a picture of the players’ protest on his Twitter account, with the caption, “#notonOUrcampus.”
— Bob Stoops (@OU_CoachStoops) March 9, 2015
Eli Weathers, a junior accounting, finance and political science major at OU, told Benswann.com that he would describe SAE as a “well-known fraternity on campus.” He said that as news of the incident has escalated quickly, and it has become a national issue, four out of his five professors have addressed it in class over the last two days.
“Since it has become such a public issue, talking about it has almost become unavoidable,” said Weathers. He added that almost all of the comments he has heard, from both professors and students, have condemned the racist acts as unacceptable.
Weathers told Benswann.com that he doesn’t think the incident involving SAE is isolated solely to the fraternity, or to its chapter at OU, and that he believes it is more of an overreaching issue that involves all “secret/exclusive” societies.
“In almost every ‘secret/exclusive’ society there are comments made about the people that aren’t in them,” Weathers said. “This may be against a race, socio-economic group, or any other group of people that aren’t in that society.”
Weathers concluded by saying that during his time at OU he has never witnessed any explicit, racist speech, and he does not expect to. “I believe the University of Oklahoma fosters an environment that celebrates diversity and condemns such behavior,” Weathers said.
Similar scandals involving fraternities have also been reported at schools such as the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Tech University.
Raw Story posted a picture on Tuesday of a list of rules for fraternity members that was displayed outside the house of the University of Texas’ chapter of Phi Gamma Delta. The rules listed on the flyer included “no fagetry,” “no interracial dating,” and “no Mexicans.”
UT’s campus newspaper, The Daily Texan, reported that the image originally surfaced in 2007 and its authenticity “has never been verified.”
The Texas Tech University chapter of Phi Delta Theta came under fire in Sept. 2014 after obscene images of a sign that condoned rape surfaced from one of the fraternity’s parties and were reported by the Huffington Post.
The Houston Chronicle reported that the international Phi Delta Theta fraternity placed its Texas Tech chapter in escrow, and severed ties with its members who “directly violated organizational policy.” Texas Tech responded to the incident by creating a “task force” to oversee all fraternities and sororities affiliated with the university.
On Tuesday, the editorial board of Texas Tech’s campus newspaper, the Daily Toreador, wrote an article condemning the university’s response to the vulgar acts of Phi Delta Theta, when compared to the way Oklahoma University officials responded to the racist acts of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
“Oklahoma officials should be commended for their swift and decisive response,” the editorial board wrote. “Oklahoma’s response looks even more timely and appropriate when compared to Texas Tech’s response to a similar incident that took place in September.”