Fraternity Chant Goes Viral in the Worst Way Possible

Video of University of Oklahoma students chanting racist slurs brings swift response.

Update (3/10/2015 1:03 p.m.): President David Boren of the University of Oklahoma announced that two students were identified as leaders in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon racist chanting video. The students were expelled according to Boren stating “that there is zero tolerance for this kind of threatening racist behavior” at the school.

Update (3/10/2015 9:54 a.m.): The University of Oklahoma chapter of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, which had been reported to be under investigation for links to the racist video, said late Monday that they are not under formal investigation. The Tri-Delt national organization said, however, that they are cooperating fully with the university’s investigation.

By Michael Nam

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity at the University of Oklahoma found out just how fast a viral video of racist behavior can reap consequences. The video allegedly shows members of the fraternity taking part enthusiastically in an explicitly racist chant using a slur for Black people and referencing lynching:

The response was rapid, as the national headquarters for the fraternity issued a statement closing the Oklahoma chapter. Brad Cohen, the fraternity’s national president, said, “SAE is a diverse organization, and we have zero tolerance for racism or any bad behavior. When we learned about this incident, I called an immediate board meeting, and we determined with no mental reservation whatsoever that this chapter needed to be closed immediately. I am proud of my fellow board members because we mean what we say.”

Additionally, the university community in Norman reacted rapidly as demonstrations were held Monday morning by members of the student body in repudiation of the actions caught on video, though members of the fraternity apparently left their house Sunday night. The SAE house was reportedly vandalized overnight with the spray painted words “Tear it down,” according to local TV station KFOR. Also, early Monday morning, the President of the school, David Boren, released an updated statement via Twitter harshly rebuking the actions of those on the video and detailing the university’s official response.

“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 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 positions 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 a zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation.”

A Vine surfaced on Monday night showing the SAE house mother, Beauton Gilbow, laughing as she repeats the N-word several times while rapping along to a song.

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  • DISGRACEFUL! Good for the University and the SAE Leadership for removing this chapter from their rolls.

  • Greg Thrasher

    How deep is this contempt for Black Americans in our nation? To observe young college students contaminated with racism is so sad and tragic for the entire country.

    How deep is the pathology of RACISM in our nation away from the glare of a camera , the water cooler whispers, the emails and ugly blogs?

    How deep is the well of inhumanity and racial depravity that leaves me and my community in peril and under siege?

    How long can I keep hope alive????????

    • @Greg. Racism is deeply rooted in America. America was built on it. It will never go away… You must ALWAYS fight it and keep hope alive??? A little bit of sunlight goes a long way in the dark. Darkness isn’t so strong in light. We must pull people into the light and out of darkness. I’ve had a pleasure of dealing with racism in high school (I’m 40). Kids running in the halls using the N-word. Teachers saying I don’t know how to teach black kids, etc..

      What’s so funny is that the black kids didn’t react badly (we stopped those who wanted to). We called the media and handled it like adults and demanded change. We got it but failed to teach the others what to do if it happens to them (we were seniors). What was funny about the whole thing is that Lincoln College Preparatory Academy is a historic black high school in Missouri. What’s so baffling…if a teacher did not know how to teach blacks kids, why they would take the job to teach them.

      Greg I understand your frustration but remember racism doesn’t take a break and WE can either. KEEP HOPE ALIVE!!!!!

    • Very deep. I was just reading the comments on AOL. Nothing but complaints about how apparently poor white people’s freedom’s are being taken away – freedom from black entertainment on TV, freedom to call black people the “N” word, freedom from the way it used to be and this has just got to stop. Why white folks everywhere can’t just have some “harmless” racist fun anymore! Oh and lynching was over 300 years ago don’t you know.

      • @Meh

        The AOL comments boards are always swarming overtime with crazy right-wing nuts and racists—any time any article is featured about black people, they will always have something nasty and hateful to say about it,no matter what, even if it’s a positive article. That being said, I’m not surprised at all at the frat chant—I’m just surprised they got busted singing it.. I mean, it’s a trip how they actually think that it’s perfectly okay to sing about “hanging an n——” in 2015,like it’s no big deal. Did they even think about what the heck they were really singing about? Of course not. Glad they got busted,though.

    • Frank McCloskey

      Greg, your comments brought me to my knees with anger. I am not naive about the continuing cause and effect of institutional racism and the pathology of white society in our country. The myth of “post racial” America and the generations following us Boomers as “getting it” and not challenged by racial, ethnic and gender diversity, is laughable IMHO. I believe the subscribers of DiversityInc understand the data which clearly indicates despite the incredible gains achieved over the past 50 years, our society is quickly backsliding and undoing critical aspects of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Where are we headed? Well, unless white people confront other white people, unless white families teach our children not to be bigoted in any form, and (paraphrasing Dr. King) realizing it’s the silence of good people watching the cruelty played out by bad people that keeps this cycle of hate going, than we are eventually going down the tubes. Let’s not kid ourselves here. Greg, so many of my Black friends and associates have expressed what you have…they say they remain hopefully, even though they have NO reason for hope that things will be better for their children and grandchildren. I now believe the life experiences between whites and Blacks are so drastically different in our country that whites largely can not comprehend what it means to have no reasons for hope. PS Luke, remain strong my friend.

        • Frank McCloskey

          Luke, the work you continue to do is more important than ever. You have my continued support, prayers and love.

      • Ditto Frank.

        A person said to me, “I didn’t realize that this was a problem.” I said, “Of course not. You are a fair minded person. It would not cross your mind to discriminate. But, it is important for you to learn that it happens and it shapes how we walk in the world.”

        We all need to look at those who are different from ourselves and be Allies. Learn about each other’s struggles and support each other even when it is inconvenient. We all have unconscious biases that we need to address. Support legislation that protects All people from discrimination and unfair treatment because we can’t count on history Not repeating. We are All part of the Human Race no matter our age, skin color, language, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, national origin, immigrant status, religion, political affiliation, etc… and deserve to have the opportunity to reach our full potential.

        We All need to understand that children are “Beginner Humans” and we are responsible for teaching them how to be authentic and navigate this world.
        Whether you are; a parent, grandparent, school teacher, Dean of Schools, law enforcement officer, business person, politician, religious leader, blogger, athlete, celebrity, or friend, children (ages 0-?) watch and learn from everything they experience. The next time you laugh at some stupid joke that disparages a group or class of people or video of the same, a movie that pigeonholes a culture or country, a news station/reporter that is disrespectful and bashes the subject of a broadcast, hold up the mirror and ask yourself, “Is this what I want children to learn from me?” because they will.

        Being a good influence in this time of social media is challenging but we have to be active participants if we want to have an equitable society.

  • Fascinating that there are no comments about this. It confirms every ugly thought I’ve ever had about white people. Fraternal and reckless. Poor stewards of intellect and absolutely low classed.

    • @TPAATLMOM, I completely understand your frustration but remember some white people helped blacks escape slavery. Some white people voted for Our President. Some white people stand up against injustice…. And some black people don’t do it themselves. We can’t group people up by race, etc. but by their heart and actions. Don’t stay frustrated, Don’t let their actions turn you into something negative. You are better than that…

    • Please don’t blame White people for this racist behavior. It was a White person who filmed it — exposing it to the outside World — and a White University head who shut down the frat house. Racism and racial bigotry are wrong, no matter the source.

      • So, who exactly is to blame?

        FYI, the early years in the history of this organization saw its growth limited to Southern states, and one of the fraternity founders was actually a plantation owner. particular Greek organization saw nearly half of its frat houses destroyed during the civil war.

        Fraternities pass their history down through the generations — the grips, the pledges, the charters, and their cultural ethos. I’m sure there was a lot of animosity towards those who were the beneficiaries of the Union’s victory.

        So, when you ask, who is to blame, the answer is: those who can’t bring themselves to reconcile the Rebel defeat. That certainly does not include people of color. Ever hear, “the South will rise again?” Thankfully, try as they might, they fail miserably. Thank God for that…

    • Please don’t stoop to lump all white people in this. This was disgraceful and they are getting what they deserve. All white people do not feel this way. To believe otherwise is just as racist.

  • I am not shocked at all. I keep telling people that racism is alive and it doesn’t take vacations. Just because we have a black president doesn’t mean the work is done. Racism has been modernized in the worst way. People don’t believe (or they choose to put their head in the sand) when it come to this subject.

    Remember in the movie Philadelphia when Denzel Washington, ask “Are you gay?” No one understands where he is going with it until he says…. “Let’s talk about it and get it in the open”. The judge says, “In this court room everyone is protected by the law…” Denzel states, “…But we don’t live in the courtroom…” (although we know the courtrooms aren’t totally cleared from racism…. but that’s another story…)

    We need to talk about “racism” honestly and openly. The National Chapter of SAE needs to talk about it with their members; University needs to talk about it; Congress needs to talk about it and AMERICA needs to talk about it!!! and work for change.

    QUESTION: When a local fraternity is shut down, does that mean the members are stripped of their membership? What is the REAL punishment? Can they go to a neighboring chapter and continue being members????

  • Welp…there you have it. These, ladies and gentlemen, are your future: politicians, judges, prosecuting attorneys, district attorneys, court-appointed attorneys, police officers, detectives, Wall Street execs, jurors, doctors, teachers, administrators, public servants, CEO’s, managers, media/music executives, authors, journalists, prison guards and business owners. They are the sons and daughters of current (see aforementioned list). Any questions?

  • This type of behavior no longer surprises me. The fact that they are smiling for the camera, solidifies the ignorance. Exactly what parts of this display of bigotry do the individuals partaking in it, thought this was okay? Well done to the President and his board members!

  • Matt Romelfanger

    It is so disheartening to see these types of things. It does cause one to wonder if there will ever be a day when this type of behavior no longer exists. To be honest, I don’t believe it will ever be completely eradicated, which is sad. TPAATLMOM, please don’t believe that this is representative of all “white people”. The vast, vast majority of us condemn this and are happy to see the university and the fraternity leadership take such quick and decisive action.

  • What brings tears to my eyes is the response from the president of that university. I have lived over a half a century and I have never heard a repudiation that fast, that powerful and supportive of black people ever! Thank you for the words I have never heard before and there is a chance I will never hear again. You are America’s hero.

  • Raymond Mondayi

    White people need too continue to realize that we all gave blood, sweat and tears. The American Indians was the first. So if you want this country back. Please gave it back to the Indians that you steal it from. Remember white American’s you are immigrants.

  • It’s a sad way to go out. I would also hope that it brings more attention to other industries such as the music industry for allowing the word to be used so much in the lyrics. That needs to addressed a lot more than any thing else. Well maybe in our homes.

  • Raymond Mondayi

    When white American’s feel they are losing control of this country they go crazy. Don’t worry, us black/brown brother/ sisters will include you in our researches without been racist toward you.

  • I live in St. Louis where this topic has obviously been a large topic of conversation for the last several months. I am Caucasian and have had to repeatedly try to make some of my Caucasian friends and family members more aware of what happens in the world as they try to claim this is all much adieu about nothing and racism is done. Hey, SAE, thanks for giving me irrefutable proof of my point. :(

  • Dr. Lillie Mae Fears

    @TPAATLMOM: I don’t think it’s fair to put all white people in the same group. I am Black and don’t like to be blamed for the shortcomings of other people who look like me, so I would never blame all white people for the evil acts and intentions of a few whites.

    • You are so right. We cannot lump all enemies of humanity together by skin pigment. These particular enemies and their lot refuse to let the hatred of their parents die. Thank GOD for this media company that gets the messages across and for the people who are working against these ideologies.

    • Luke Visconti

      We moderate every post. I will not be used by racists, gay bashers, woman haters, bigots or perverts of any other kind. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

  • While we know that not every “insert group here” is “insert ism here,” let’s not pretend that Brown folks don’t have to step up right away when bad things happen and decry the incidents right away. So, it wouldn’t be inappropriate for more White people to speak up publicly and decry these incidents, either. You know who your racist family members, friends, parishioners and their kids are. It takes everyone to reduce the isms in the United States.

  • I am a white, middle-aged woman and I absolutely abhor this kind of behavior and words, no matter where or when used. There is no place in my ideal for America for this type of low, despicable behavior and I am glad the university president and the fraternity reacted as they did as quickly as they did.

    To try to hide behind “free speech” is disingenuous (re AOL comments). It was hate speech, pure and simple, and we all must have zero tolerance.

    I keep hoping we’ll culturally evolve past this awful, dangerous mindset. I had high hopes when our President was elected, but, unfortunately, it was when he was elected that I saw and heard some people’s true natures. I was — and am — shocked and deeply saddened by this ongoing blind and hateful racism.

  • While this particular incident is in fact shocking and dismaying, it is far from surprising. Fraternities at American college campuses have long, and I mean LONG, been a cesspool of racism and hatred of anyone different from themselves. I recall back in the 80s when I was in college, one of the fraternities held a Cinco de Mayo party, complete with fraternity brothers dressed as immigration agents, others dressed as “Mexicans” with stereotypical mustache and sombreros and yet others throwing tortillas at passers-by. Shock and outrage ran through the campus, the fraternity was suspended, their national organization made similar pronouncements of dismay to those of SAE at OU. And here we are in 2015 seeing the exact same behavior, if not worse. Why is it not surprising? When our first African-American President is disrespected and undermined by the white establishment at every turn in a manner which goes way beyond policy disagreements, why would we expect college kids to behave any better? Truly a sad state of racial affairs in our country.

  • WHY!?!?!?! WHY IS THE GRANDMA SMILING AT US???? WHY???? Does she think it’s funny to do this? Why?

  • While I appreciate how the University of Oklahoma & its board members responded, this is also part of the problem. This is not to say they did anything wrong.

    Here’s the problem. Every person who participated in the chant (especially the leader(s)), should take ownership of his/her actions, and publicly apologize for the racist behavior. I think back to when I was a teenager and got caught doing the wrong things. My mother would take me to the person(s), and have me sincerely apologize for my actions (punishment included). I felt terrible, and realized how “my” negative behavior, did not reflect the values, I was being taught at home.

    I am so thankful for humility, I am so thankful for my family, and for those lessons they gave me. I am so thankful to know, I represent more than “myself.”

    Stand up and take ownership(!) for your actions with a sincere apology!

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