Responding to a video that allegedly shows members of its University of Oklahoma chapter chanting racist slurs about African-Americans and lynching, the national office of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity has closed the chapter and suspended its members.
The video reportedly captured a scene of members of the fraternity, dressed in formal wear, chanting slurs as they rode on a chartered bus. It surfaced Sunday, immediately drawing wide condemnation for the chant’s mention of lynching and the promise that the fraternity will never have a black member.
From Norman, Okla., Brian Hardzinski of member station KGOU reports:
“The fraternity’s national president Brad Cohen said he called a board meeting Sunday night when the organization learned of the incident, and decided to close the chapter immediately.
“Students were seen moving their belongings out of the house in Norman late last night and early this morning. A minority-rights student group hosted a protest Monday morning on the University of Oklahoma’s campus.
“In a statement last night, OU President David Boren called the behavior ‘reprehensible’ and contrary to the university’s values.”
Late last night, the national fraternity posted a statement about the Oklahoma incident, saying:
“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. 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.”
Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded in 1856, at the University of Alabama; the fraternity initially confined its growth only to Southern states but has since grown to more than 200 chapters around the nation, with more than 15,000 collegiate members currently, according to the organization’s website.