Fraternity members allegedly caught chanting anti-Black slurs
The national fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon has found one of its college chapters under scrutiny following allegations that some of it members made racist chants.
SAE’s national headquarters closed its chapter at the University of Oklahoma on Sunday after a video surfaced appearing to capture some of its members singing a racist chant. SAE’s nationals have suspended all members of its University of Oklahoma chapter, and are considering permanently revoking membership privileges from the members allegedly involved.
The video depicts a group of white, formally dressed men chanting “There will never be a n***** in SAE, You can hang ‘em from a tree but they’ll never sign with me, There will never be a n***** in SAE.” The video was acquired and posted on Twitter and YouTube by Unheard, a Black student organization.
In a statement released in response to the video, SAE national president Brad Cohen said “I was not only shocked and disappointed but disgusted by the outright display of racism in the video. Sigma Alpha Epsilon is a diverse organization, and we have zero tolerance for racism or similar behavior.”
SAE also released an organization-wide online statement. “We apologize for the unacceptable and racist behavior of the individuals in the video, and we are disgusted that any member would act in such a way,” the statement read.
“Furthermore, we are embarrassed by this video and offer our empathy not only to anyone outside the organization who is offended but also to our brothers who come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities.”
Susan DuMont, UMBC’s Coordinator of Student Life for Fraternities and Sororities, expressed her own personal disapproval towards the University of Oklahoma’s SAE chapter. “It is disgusting that in 2015 a fraternity and university have to apologize for overt, horrific racist behavior from students,” she said, “but I am glad to see that the presidents of both Sigma Alpha Epsilon and [the University of Oklahoma] have responded swiftly and with action.”
DuMont went on to contrast the situation involving the University of Oklahoma with the culture cultivated by UMBC’s fraternities and sororities. “I am confident that behavior like this could not happen at UMBC today and that is one reason I’m proud to work with our community,” she said.
Other groups have also issued responses to the video. The Oklahoma chapter of the NAACP tweeted calling for “a proper investigation” and for justice to be administered.
Unheard, the student group that released the video, wrote online that “50 years after the events that occurred in Selma, Alabama we still have a reason to march. We as a people have indeed come a long way, but yet still have so far to go.” The University of Oklahoma’s administration stated that it is investigating the incident.
SAE has found itself involved in a number of public incidents involving misconduct in the past few years. In 2014, its University of Connecticut chapter was banned for five years following allegations of hazing. Last month, its Yale chapter was banned for sexual misconduct at an initiation ceremony the previous year.
“National staff and volunteers are doing very good programming at national and regional leadership conferences, electronic training programs, and in-person support from volunteers and staff,” said DuMont, speaking on how incident like the one in Oklahoma ought to be handled. “However, the challenge is offering the education and intervention that each chapter needs, and offices can only respond to what they know about.”