A shocking video of a University of Oklahoma fraternity chanting a racist song was posted to YouTube, prompting the national headquarters to shutter the chapter immediately.
In the 10-second video, Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members wearing tuxedos are riding in a bus to a formal event and chanting in unison "There will never be a n***er SAE." The chant also includes a reference to lynching, with the words "you can hang 'em from a tree."
Here's the clip:
A statement announcing the closure of the chapter posted to Sigma Alpha Epsilon's headquarters website stated that "all of the members have been suspended, and those members who are responsible for the incident may have their membership privileges revoked permanently."
The university's president, David Boren, addressed the fraternity members directly in a statement: "To those 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. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves "Sooners." Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots. Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity. Real Sooners treat all people with respect. Real Sooners love each other and take care of each other like family members."
Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker, who is African American, released a profanity-laced video that has been widely circulated (here it is at OUDaily). And the O'Colly, a Stillwater-based college news website, has posted photos showing a Confederate flag hanging inside the SAE house.
Boren attended a rally this morning on the OU campus, as did the school's football coach, Bob Stoops. "It’s sad the ignorance that can still be there with some people. It’s just appalling," Stoops said, acording to Tulsa World. "I was here to be with my guys. We all work with beautiful young men and women of all races. It’s just, you know, very little gets me choked up. But that hurt."
A page from today's Oklahoma Daily.
Although this incident will undoubtedly grab the most headlines, racial insensitivity among college students in the state of Oklahoma—a region once known as "Indian Territory"—isn't new, as Natives can attest. In January, Native students objected to plans for a "Cowboys and Indians" theme party by OU's Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. And in August 2014, prior to a game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Florida State Seminoles, Cowboys supporters held a banner that said "SEND 'EM HOME #TRAIL_OF_TEARS #GOPOKES."
The walls of the SAE house have been vandalized, including the statement "TEAR IT DOWN."
One twitter user has said that the chant isn't unique to Oklahoma SAEs:
@MikeEvans25 : @President_Boren I was an SAE at a university in Texas from 2000-2004. The exact same chant was often used then. This is not isolated.
Taking the lead in protests among the OU student body is an African American student alliance called Unheard. A statement posted to the group's YouTube channel reads: "We, Unheard, stand firmly against bigotry, racism, and any injustice to all minority communities, on any campus, or in any setting. We aim to share light that WE DO NOT LIVE IN A POST RACIAL AMERICA. Even after 50 years after the events that occurred in Selma, Alabama we still have a reason to march. We as a people have indeed come a long way, but yet still have so far to go. Within this video there appears to be members of a national fraternity known as Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Let this press statement serve as a notice that we will not accept this."
The Unheard twitter feed -- @OU_Unheard -- has the latest news on the still-developing story.