The fraternity that became embroiled in controversy after a grainy cell phone video went viral showing members from the University of Oklahoma singing a racist chant on a bus has released the findings of an investigation it undertook to understand and address diversity issues within the organization. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon investigation, which began in March, found at least five chapters in the fraternity’s national footprint since 2012 had heard the racist chant though the Oklahoma incident was reportedly the most recent.
At least two Oklahoma students were expelled after the video went public. The SAE report said the frat denied making up the chant, but noted the national fraternity had created a new position, director of diversity and inclusion, which it said is the first such staff role established by a North American fraternity or sorority.
“There will never be a n----- at SAE … you can hang him from a tree, but he’ll never sign with me,” the students were recorded chanting on the bus, dressed in formal wear. “There will never be a n----- at SAE.”
The University concluded through its own investigation the fraternity members had learned the song at a national leadership event four years earlier. The event, a cruise organized by the national office, reportedly taught the students the chant as a part of the formal and informal pledge process.
A subsequent investigation by BuzzFeed News found that particular chant had occurred repeatedly in the fraternity's history, including in news reports. The investigation also found through interviews and historical documents that SAE “does have a long history of generally unchallenged intolerance toward minorities that met such little resistance it became ingrained in the fraternity’s very culture.”
The Oklahoma chapter of SAE was shut down last March 8.