Sigma Alpha Epsilon releases findings following investigation into OU racist chant

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NORMAN, Okla. – As a local university continues to recover from a scandal that rocked campus last year, a national fraternal organization has released its findings on its investigation into that scandal.

In March, a video featuring members of OU’s  Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity went viral.

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.”

Action following the video was swift by university leaders.

“We won’t tolerate this. These people, as I said this morning, don’t deserve to be called Sooners,” OU President David Boren said. “The house will be closed, and as far as I’m concerned, they won’t be back… at least not while I’m President of the university.”

In addition to speaking out about the actions of the fraternity members, President Boren released the findings on an investigation that delved into the chant.

He said the investigation revealed that the chant was taught to OU’s members on a national leadership cruise sponsored by the national organization of Sigma Alpha Epsilon four years before the video surfaced.

After that, the chant was brought back to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma.

The Board of Trustees and Alumni of the University of Oklahoma’s SAE chapter also said the song has been going on for years.

Over time, officials say the chant was formalized in the OU chapter and was taught to pledges as part of the formal and informal pledgeship process.

“It is clear that during the four years since the chant was brought to the University campus, its existence was known by recent members and that it became part of the institutionalized culture of the chapter,” the investigate report read.

After Boren released his findings, SAE national president Brad Cohen posted a Facebook status criticizing comments Boren made, saying they were “inflammatory and self serving.

Less than a month after the video surfaced, the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization announced that it would be taking steps to prevent this from ever happening again.

In March, the group said it was currently investigating who taught the song to members of OU’s fraternity, denying that it was ever taught at a leadership retreat.

“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.

However, organization leaders said they would continue to investigate all university chapters.

On Friday, the fraternity’s national organization announced its findings of the investigation.

“With regard to our investigation about the chant in the Oklahoma incident, Sigma Alpha Epsilon polled every collegiate member over the course of several months. We learned there were five chapters that acknowledged hearing the chant in the past five years. However, none of those members who responded said they heard it more recently than 2012, except for the incident at the University of Oklahoma. We provided additional education to those particular chapters on diversity and inclusion to make sure their culture has not deviated from our values and mission. In addition, we cannot confirm that Sigma Alpha Epsilon originated the chant. The fraternity headquarters continues to work with our Director of Diversity & Inclusion to ensure proactive education and awareness for our members.”

 

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