A video of members from the Oklahoma Kappa chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) chanting a racist fraternity song went viral on Sunday. By Monday, president of the University of Oklahoma, David Boren, released an official statement on the fate of the chapter: “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.”
The song directly referred to lynchings and repeated the n-word to the tune of “Happy and You Know It.” The video, only nine seconds long, is startling in its blatant racism, and in the sheer pleasure seen from the chanters—all white—as fraternity and sorority members sit on a bus driving to a formal dance.
Many people have taken to social media to express their reactions to this video. The hashtags #SAEHatesMe and #notonOUrcampus have been prevalent, specifically. Howard Dixon, the chef who had been employed at the OU SAE chapter for ten years, won’t have a job anymore, but thanks to the efforts of an IndieGo crowdfunding page created by one Blake Burkhart, Dixon’s financial security may well be taken care of. As of the time this editorial was written, $32,966 have been raised to help Dixon find stability until he can find another job in the form of 761 donations.
On Monday morning, students at OU protested against the actions of the SAE’s in the video. The OU football team, instead of practicing, marched in protest as well. Brad Cohen, SAE’s national president, echoed Boren’s reactions of disgust and embarrassment. Rapper Waka Flocka Flame cancelled his show for the SAE Oklahoma Kappa chapter, and he released his official statement on Instagram. “Racism,” he wrote, “is not something I will tolerate.”
President Boren certainly means to promote a “zero tolerance” policy for racism among students at his university. Also included in his official statement, Boren wrote, “We vow that we will be an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue.”
The response of president Boren was swift and strong, and it set a precedent that racism will no longer be taken lightly. While dozens of former SAE’s will no longer have a place to live on the University of Oklahoma’s campus, Boren’s message is clear: the Sooners will not tolerate any racism, under any circumstances.
The DePauw hopes nothing like this happens on our campus, nor would we expect it to happen. Were it to happen, however, the consequences of such overt and thoughtless racism would quickly be administered. Greek life is not an invincible bubble within college communities, and universities and national chapters alike will not hesitate to pop that bubble given a reason to.