The video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members at the University of Oklahoma singing a racist song has prompted inquiries into other chapters of the fraternity.
SAE chapters at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech University and Louisiana Tech University are facing extra scrutiny this week from both school officials and the national fraternity organization to ensure brothers on those campuses are not engaging in similar offensive behavior.
The national office for SAE disbanded the University of Oklahoma chapter late on Sunday after video surfaced of fraternity members singing a song that referenced lynching black men and included the lyrics, “There will never be a n****r SAE.”
Former SAE members from other chapters have since come forward to The Huffington Post and other outlets — as well as to some online forums such as Twitter and Reddit — to say they heard the same lyrics years ago.
“SAEs across the country and their advisers — even without the fraternity headquarters being involved — have already started these conversations,” fraternity spokesman Brandon Weghorst told The Huffington Post on Thursday. “What do we need to do so people don’t view us like this, and how can we enhance our outreach to other campus groups, particularly around issues like diversity?”
SAE national headquarters is investigating whether a similar song was performed at their Louisiana Tech University chapter in 2010, Weghorst said. He described an “active investigation” into the allegation that the Louisiana Tech members sang the racist song and whether “there’s a cultural issue” in the chapter.
Louisiana Tech officials are also reviewing whether the racist lyrics were chanted at their SAE chapter, the school said in a statement. University administrators met with the current leadership of the their chapter this week “to ensure this type of behavior is not taking place among the active SAE members at Louisiana Tech,” the school added. But Louisiana Tech cautioned that the school “cannot monitor all the activities taking place in every one of its student organizations.”
Meanwhile, UT-Austin officials said this week they learned of allegations of similar behavior at their SAE chapter. University officials spoke with the chapter leaders Tuesday, who denied performing the song or anything similar, according to UT-Austin Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly.
“Our office is also reaching out to former and current students involved with SAE for a more complete review,” Reagins-Lilly said in a statement. “Answering questions about past behavior may take time, but we wanted to let the community know right now that our local chapter of SAE reports no awareness of the chant and expresses strong disapproval of it.”
At Texas Tech, administrators “have and continue to discuss examples of behavior nationally that do not reflect the type of behavior expected at students at Texas Tech,” Chris Cook, a spokesman for the university, told HuffPost. “This has included conversations this week about OU and with SAE.”
Administrators at the College of Charleston said they spoke with SAE brothers to see if they had ever heard the racist chant on their campus, but the members said they hadn’t and were “appalled” by its content. Texas State University said it had hired a dean charged with raising cultural awareness within the Greek community, and notes 20 out of 55 current SAE members on its campus “are ethnic minorities.”
Officials with the University of Alabama, the home of the original SAE chapter and a school criticized in recent years for a segregated Greek system, declined to say whether they’ve received reports of offensive language from SAE members on campus. They instead referred HuffPost to the national headquarters.
SAE’s national office has noticed “a laundry list” of instances of racial insensitivity that have taken place at its chapters around the country, Weghorst told HuffPost.
“Everybody accepts that SAE’s reputation has been tainted and that there have been a lot of incidents,” Weghorst said. The SAE headquarters began meeting “almost immediately” to discuss a plan to address racial insensitivity issues nationwide in addition to their current efforts, he added, but nothing has been finalized yet.
Source: Huff Post