Article by Katy Zielinski | esPResso Committee Member
A shocking video posted online on March 7 from a student at the University of Oklahoma resulted in the formal closure of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity chapter at the school, followed by the expulsion of the two students who led the racist chant featured in the recording. The event sparked rallies and national debate while drawing attention to similar incidents across the nation.
The national SAE website offers detailed commentary to the University of Oklahoma case in addition to the organization’s non-discrimination policy. The site states that in order to directly combat these issues, it has “launched an investigation into other allegations.” SAE also introduced a four-pronged initiative to combat racial discrimination among its members, which include establishing a toll-free hotline to report inappropriate behavior and a “mandatory diversity and education program.” It is clear that the national organization does not wish to affiliate with misbehaving chapters.
University of Oklahoma’s President, David Boren, also responded quickly to this situation. He immediately ended the University’s ties to SAE and stated that this event should serve as a warning for the remaining Greek organizations on campus. He announced that he was “sickened” by the event and that he doesn’t “have much sympathy for them.” Boren concluded that he will work closely with the school’s Student Affairs Office to examine racial justice within other fraternities and sororities on campus, according to ABC.
Students at the university reacted similarly. Protests were organized and publicized on social media with the hashtag #OneOU. The Black Student Association on campus reacted strongly and spoke with NBC News about their experiences. The president of the club, Isaac Hill, stated that he was accustomed to this behavior and that the video “wasn’t really a shock initially.” However, Hill remains optimistic and explained that this video serves as encouragement since someone recorded the chant and “shared it with the world because they felt it was wrong.”
While it is disappointing that this behavior continues in this country, organizations have clearly taken appropriate action to ensure this does not happen again. The University of Oklahoma was quick to respond and take action.