The University of Oklahoma has severed its connection to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity after members of the student organization were caught on video participating in a racist chant, school President David Boren said Monday in a statement. Boren ordered the fraternity’s house to be closed and for its inhabitants to vacate the premises by midnight Tuesday.
“To those of you who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you. You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for. … Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between this university and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed,” Boren said.
Fraternity members chanted “There will never be a n----- in SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me” while traveling by bus Saturday to a party. The Oklahoma Daily, the university’s student newspaper, and Unheard, a student organization founded to combat racism after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, each received video of the racist chant, according to CNN. The two organizations published the video, which was then picked up nationally by dozens of media organizations.
Unheard obtained the video through an anonymous text and posted it to Twitter, the group’s co-director Chelsea Davis told CNN. “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.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national leadership condemned the OU chapter’s racist chant in a statement, closed the school’s chapter of the fraternity and announced that all members of the branch were suspended. “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,” the organization said in a statement.