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National organization: OU SAE chant “offensive and harmful”

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NORMAN, Okla. - After a racist video featuring members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at OU went viral, many people turned their focus to race relations in the United States.

In the video, you can hear the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity cheering “there will never be a nig*** in SAE.”

The chant goes on to say, “you can hang them from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me.”

Now, the fraternity's national organization is speaking out about the video and about its next move.

"The recent actions of certain members at the University of Oklahoma do not reflect the fraternity I lead. The chant in the video is ugly, it is demoralizing and absolutely counter to the values of SAE. I want to be crystal clear.  We have a zero-tolerance for that sort of behavior," said Blaine Ayers, executive director of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. "As a national organization, however, we must answer for the actions of those whom we have welcomed into our membership. And so today, I want to apologize on behalf of our fraternity for the pain the situation has caused. The words were offensive and harmful, and now we must begin the task of seeking forgiveness and taking steps to ensure that this never happens again."

Ayers says officials are working to Sigma Alpha Epsilon more open by creating an initiative to address racial discrimination.

The national SAE organization is hiring a director of diversity and inclusion, create a mandatory diversity and education program for all members and staff, it will appoint a committee on diversity and inclusion and create a confidential hotline to report inappropriate or offensive behavior by members.

Currently, Ayers says there is a comprehensive investigation of all chapters.

He says if anything inappropriate is found, their actions will be swift.

The group is currently investigating who taught the song to members of OU's fraternity.

"I am not aware of any song book, there's been no official publication from SAE, that has ever produced this song. And to that point, none of us had ever heard the song before. And so our song book is an open book, literally, and we could provide that if necessary, but that is not anything that is officially sanctioned by the organization," he said.

In all, there are 237 SAE chapters with 15,000 members.

When asked about the racial makeup of the fraternity, officials couldn't provide statistics.

However, they said in the last 18 months, 3 percent of new members are African-American.

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