The University of Oklahoma President has announced that the school is permanently cutting all ties with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity after the school’s chapter was video taped participating in a racist chant.
University President David Boren said the fraternity members had until midnight on Tuesday to collect their belongings and leave the house, which was shut down by the national chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
“The house will be closed, and as far as I’m concerned, they won’t be back,” he said, adding that the university is exploring what actions it can take against individual fraternity members.
The issue started over a 9-second video clip that was released showing fraternity members on their way to a party participating in a racist chant. The video quickly found its way to the school newspaper and a campus organization, both of which publicized the clip.
Students in the video sat in a bus, pumping their fists and chanting, “There will never be a ni**** SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me.”
M. Alex Johnson for 11Alive reports that a young woman was also seen on the video, participating in the chant along with the fraternity members. While her identity has not yet been discovered, the national office of Delta Delta Delta sorority has released a statement saying they are “cooperating fully with our partners at the university as they investigate this matter.”
“Tri Delta expects its members to uphold the highest responsibilities of college women,” it said. “The behavior documented in the video is deplorable and is in no way consistent with Tri Delta’s ideals and core values.”
The next day the national chapter had suspended the University of Oklahoma members and threatened lifetime suspension for those found to be responsible for the chant, writes Eliott C. McLaughlin for CNN.
Boren then appeared at a campus rally, telling students, “I have a message for those who have misused their freedom of speech in this way. My message to them is: You’re disgraceful. You have violated every principle that this university stands for.” He went on to say he was outraged by the behavior displayed in the video, and that it in no way reflected the students of the University of Oklahoma, writes Jon Schuppe for NBC News.
He finished his speech by asking for zero tolerance.
“The only way you put a stop to it is have zero tolerance when it is found out. Clearly, I think some of our students wanted this exposed. They wanted this video out there, and I’ve asked them to please let me know when they’re other things like this that happen,” Boren told CNN.
At a press conference, Boren said the school is currently looking into proper punishment for the individuals involved in the incident, especially against those “who have taken a lead” in the actions. Expulsion is being looked at as an option, although it will depend on whether students had contributed to the creation of a hostile environment on campus.
Students on campus attended a protest in hopes that the individuals who participated will remove themselves on campus. Some students came to the protest with tape over their mouths with the word “Unheard” written on it.