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article imageUniversity of Oklahoma frat shuttered after racist video surfaces

By Megan Hamilton     Mar 10, 2015 in Odd News
After a racist video chant aired online the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma is being shuttered and members of the fraternity will be suspended.
The frat members were given until midnight Tuesday to fetch their belongings, university President David Boren said in a news conference Monday afternoon, CNN reports.
"The house will be closed, and as far as I'm concerned, they won't be back," Boren said. The university is currently exploring the actions it can take against individual members, he added.
The video was posted online by Unheard, a black student group at the university, and it shows white members of SAE on a bus chanting racial slurs that referenced lynching, Syracuse.com reports.
They can be heard singing:
"There will never be a n----- in SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me."
In a statement Sunday, SAE's national headquarters said it was "embarrassed" by the "unacceptable and racist" behavior demonstrated in the video and noted that an investigation had confirmed that it was real. By Sunday night, headquarters had suspended the University of Oklahoma members and has said those who are responsible for the chant may be given lifelong suspension, CNN notes.
Boren has gone even further than that.
Appearing at a campus rally, he told students over a bullhorn, "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."
In an interview with CNN's Don Lemon, Boren said that the video angered, outraged, and saddened him. He said the behavior of the fraternity members isn't indicative of what University of Oklahoma students, often called "Sooners," represent.
"It was unbelievable that this could have possibly occurred with UO students," he said. "Sooners are not racists. They're not bigots. They are people who respect each other and care about each other."
He also told CNN:
"The only way you put a stop to it is to 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."
Unheard is a campus organization that was launched in response to the police killing of Michael Brown. It received the video through an anonymous text and moved to "let our community and our university know that this behavior is not tolerated, that it's unacceptable and it's extremely, extreme offensive," Chelsea Davis, the group's co-director told CNN.
This type of mentality isn't new to the campus, nor is it confined to one fraternity, she said. It is, however, the first time people have been caught on video.
"Unfortunately, it took them getting caught on video camera for this to happen, but this is definitely not something that is brand-new. It's not something that's only seen within this one organization," she said.
Expelling all of those involved is the only acceptable response, she said. Suspending them would send the wrong message.
"I was hurt that my fellow peers that I walk to class with every day, people that I see every day, could say such hateful things about me and my culture, about my friends, about my brothers and my sisters," she said.
Unheard posted the video Sunday along with the comment, "Racism is alive at the University of Oklahoma," and sent it to Boren on his Twitter feed.
He responded:
"If the video is indeed of OU students, this behavior will not be tolerated and is contrary to all of our values. We are investigating. -DBo."
The Oklahoma chapter of the NAACP called for "a proper investigation" into the video and said it hopes "justice is served," in a Twitter message, The New York Times reports.
The university's student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily, also received the video in a Sunday email, print Editor Katelyn Griffith told CNN. The fraternity was celebrating Founder's Day on Saturday, and the video showed members on their way to a formal event that evening, she said.
"We decided that this was definitely a story they needed to cover without question," she said. "This was something that we knew wouldn't be tolerated by the students at OU and the university at large."
The video has lit up Twitter, Syracuse.com reports, and students have been organizing peaceful protests against the fraternity and have also launched the #SAEHatesMe. It was trending on Twitter Monday.
Rapper Wacka Flocka Flame has also canceled a performance that was scheduled for next month.
He released a statement on Instagram to explain his decision and said his shows are meant for "all races partying having a good time and enjoying themselves together peacefully."
As one of the largest fraternities in the country, with more than 15,000 members, this isn't the first time a local chapter has been in hot water, The New York Times reports. Earlier this year, Yale university banned it from conducting any on-campus activities until August 2016 as a form of punishment for violating sexual misconduct policies at an initiation ceremony last year and then doing whatever it could to obfuscate the resulting investigation. At the University of Connecticut in 2014, the fraternity received a five-year ban over hazing allegations.
More about University of Oklahoma, UO president david boren, david boren, unheard, black student group
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