NORMAN, Okla. – Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity has shut down its chapter at the University of Oklahoma in response to a nine-second video on YouTube showing members singing racist chants and vowing never to admit black students.
University president David Boren said an investigation is underway into the origin of the video and the those who participated in it.
“This behavior will not be tolerated and will be addressed very quickly,” said Boren, a former U.S. Senator from Oklahoma. “This behavior is contrary to all of our values.”
The video was posted to YouTube Sunday afternoon by a black student group, Unheard of Movement. It did not say how it got the video or when it was filmed, but said it contained “offensive, disrespectful and unacceptable” language.
The Oklahoma Daily, the campus newspaper that first reported the video, said it shows young white men and women in formal wear on a bus and chanting anti-black slurs, including a reference to lynching. The paper said the chant vows that black students will “never” be allowed to join the SAE chapter at Oklahoma University.
At one point, the paper said, a man dressed in a tuxedo and standing in the aisle of the bus pumps his first in the air while chanting. It said a young woman seated nearby is seen clapping.
“Even after 50 years after the events that occurred in Selma, Alabama we still have a reason to march,” the black group said in a statement posted with the video. “We as a people have indeed come a long way, but yet still have so far to go.”
Brad Cohen, national president of the SAE fraternity, said he viewed the video and had “no mental reservation whatsoever that this chapter needed to be closed immediately. SAE is a diverse organization and we have zero tolerance for racism or any bad behavior.”
SAE is one of the largest college fraternities in the country. It has chapters on more than 2,000 college campuses.
Cohen said he hopes a chapter could be re-established in the future at OU “with a group of men who exemplify our beliefs and who serve as leaders on campus and in the community.”
Details for this story were provided by the Norman, Okla., Transcript and The Oklahoma Daily.