Courtesy OK News
Two University of Oklahoma students were expelled Tuesday for their alleged “leadership roleâ€ in a racist chant by Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members, a decision that President David Boren says speaks to his schoolâ€™s “zero toleranceâ€ policy for such “threatening racist behavior.â€
The expulsions come days after the video surfaced and hours before the midnight Tuesday deadline that SAE members were given to pack their bags and get out of their house.
It was only a nine-second clip, but the fallout has been disastrous.
The national chapter of SAE shuttered the house at OU, and Boren said the universityâ€™s affiliation with the fraternity is permanently done.
“I was not only shocked and disappointed but disgusted by the outright display of racism displayed in the video,â€ said Brad Cohen, the fraternityâ€™s national president. “SAE is a diverse organization, and we have zero tolerance for racism or any bad behavior.â€
Still, it could get worse. Oklahoma may not be the only source of embarrassment for the fraternity.
“Several other incidents with chapters or members have been brought to the attention of the headquarters staff and leaders, and each of those instances will be investigated for further action,â€ SAE said.
The national chapter didnâ€™t provide details of the alleged incidents or where they are said to have taken place.
The beginning of the end
Boren said heâ€™s done with SAE at Oklahoma.
“The house will be closed, and as far as Iâ€™m concerned, they wonâ€™t be back,â€ he said at a Monday news conference. The university also is exploring what actions it can take against individual fraternity members.
“There seems to be a culture in some of these fraternities, and it just has to be snuffed out,â€ Boren said.
The video shows students on a bus, clapping, shouting and chanting. “There will never be a ni**** SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me.â€
Both the student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily, and Unheard, a campus organization launched after the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, received the video over the weekend and released it.
Unheard posted the video to its Twitter and YouTube accounts.
Boren declares â€˜zero toleranceâ€™
The decision to shutter the fraternity was an easy one for Boren.
“If weâ€™re ever going to snuff this out in the whole country, let alone on college campuses, weâ€™re going to have to have zero tolerance and we have to act right away,â€ the former Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator said.
“This is not a place that wants racists or bigots on our campus or will tolerate it, so I think you have to send a very strong signal.â€
According to university officials close to the investigation, this is only the beginning of what could lead to other unintended results. The officials were quoted as saying that fraternities have long gotten away with racist behavior in the name of “freedom of speech.â€