Sigma Alpha Epsilon, one of fraternities affiliated with the University of Oklahoma, became the focus point of widespread outrage after being caught on video performing racist chants. The fraternity house was soon shut and the University’s affiliation with Sigma Alpha Epsilon was permanently terminated, however, it seems that the fallout itself is far from over.
Although announcements soon followed that the fraternity house would immediately be closed and that the University would explore the situation in depth, individual fraternity members have yet to feel the full repercussions of their actions.
The nine-second video clip showed several members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chanting the racial epithet on a bus. It was anonymously presented to the university’s newspaper as well as a campus organization.
“There will never be a ni**** SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me.”
the chant said.
According to University President David Boren, an investigation is being conducted in order to establish whether some of the involved students may face expulsion as a result of their actions violating the Civil Rights Act.
Racial discrimination is strictly prohibited according to title VI of the Civil Rights Act. According to president Boren, the university will be taking a closer look at all the perpetrators, attempting to single out those who might have led this disgraceful activity.
Apart from the obvious consequences of such activities, the incident caused the de-commitment of a top high school recruit from the University. African-American students (roughly 1,400) attending classes at the University were shocked at the events, noting that the bus chant made it clear that the fraternity members had “done it before”.
President Boren warned the students that their freedom of speech had been badly misunderstood and misused and that, in so doing, they had violated all principles that the University stood for. By midnight Tuesday, the president announced, students belonging to SAE had to remove their belongings after the yellow letters had been removed from the fraternity and sorority houses.
Other university students wanted to show their support and rather than continuing activities, they protested: the Oklahoma football team walked arm-in-arm in all black attire together with their coach and athletic director. Other students organized pre-dawn rallies aimed at showing African-American students that the actions of the fraternity did not speak for all of the University’s students. “This is not who we are,” Boren insisted.
Boren stressed his zero-tolerance policy in the face of such events. He explained that UO students and staff are not racists or bigots and that he would personally see to it that the university employs a harsh zero-tolerance policy when the responsible parties are discovered.
“I think some of the students themselves may take themselves off the campus, and I hope they do because this is not a place that wants racists,”
President Boren told CNN.