“I’d be glad if they left,” OU addresses racist chant reportedly made by fraternity members

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NORMAN, Okla. - A local university is under fire after a video that showed fraternity members singing a racist chant went viral.

On Sunday, a video that was recorded on a bus to a fraternity party was uploaded to YouTube.

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.”

Warning: The video below contains graphic language.

After the video went viral, a separate organization named Unheard confirmed that the men in the video were students at the University of Oklahoma.

Immediately, OU President David Boren and the national chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon responded to the allegations.

"Sigma Alpha Epsilon is aware of the video and is both shocked and appalled at what we have seen. Those types of behaviors are not consistent with our values whatsoever. We are investigating the details and will sanction those who are responsible," the national chapter said in a statement on Twitter.

On Sunday, Brad Cohen, the SAE national president, announced that OU's chapter had been placed on a cease & desist.

On Monday, OU President David Boren released the following statement on the incident:

"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. Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between this University and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed. I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow. Those needing to make special arrangements for possessions shall contact the Dean of Students."

"All of us will redouble our efforts to create the strongest sense of family and community. We vow that we will be an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue. There must be zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation."

Just hours after the video was posted on the Internet, the fraternity house was hit by vandals.

Spray paint now covers the side of the building, including the phrase, “Tear it down.”

On Monday morning, hundreds of students, including several high-profile student athletes, joined a protest along the campus' North Oval.

The students all wore black hoodies as a symbol of solidarity.

OU President David Boren addressed the concerns and frustrations by fellow students.

"I  was sickened by the video," Boren said. "It couldn't be here. It couldn't be here. The community is so good."

Boren said the best way to send a message to the campus and the nation is to impose a zero-tolerance policy against "racist and bigoted behavior."

"We're a real community," Boren said.

He said his heart goes out to the students who condemn the fraternity's actions. 

"I couldn't sleep after that. When I heard about the rally at 7:30 this morning, I was determined to be there," he said.  "This is not who we are."

He says OU's community is strong and positive, but is being degraded in the public view by a few people.

"I was so deeply saddened by it that it could happen here," he said.

He says he is proud of the students who organized the rally, making sure a call for change was made public.

Boren says the SAE house has been immediately closed.

"As they pack their bags, I hope they think long and hard about what they've done," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, it won't be back, at least as long as I'm president."

He added that an investigation has been opened on the individuals who were seen on the video.

Boren says that the university's student code prevents discrimination of any kind, which could mean that those students may be violating Title VI of the Civil Rights law.

He says that OU is looking at all punishments for those involved, including expulsion.

"We don't have any room for racists and bigots at this university. I'd be glad if they left," he said.

He said that the school does not plan to help those involved find alternative housing.

"Here's what happens to racists on this campus," Boren said, adding that it should serve as a lesson to other fraternities and sororities.

He says the fraternity has not been "totally forthcoming" about the incident and since that is the case, he has "thrown them off campus."

He hopes they grow as people and will meet with minority students and apologize.

"Moments like these should be teaching moments," he said.

The Oklahoma State Conference NAACP issued the following statement on the incident:

"We are pleased with the expeditious response by President Boren to ban the fraternity from campus activities. However, it is our belief that more should be done to ensure that this type of behavior is never tolerated or condoned by any organization supported by the university."

The NAACP is asking that diversity training be required for all organizations associated with OU, a town hall meeting be held with concerned students and friends of the university and an open dialogue among fraternal organizations concerning diversity.

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