Incident at University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon sparks reaction at DePauw University

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Members of the Indiana Delta Chapter of
Sigma Alpha Epsilon eat dinner on their front deck.
SAM CARAVANA / THE DEPAUW

With 27,000 students, the University of Oklahoma’s student population is around 6 percent black. While DePauw University has only 2,400 students, it is similarly only 6 percent black.

On Sunday March 6, a video depicting fraternity members singing a song filled with racial slurs was leaked. These fraternity men were members of the Kappa chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma.

University president, David Boren, took immediate action. Members of the SAE chapter had to be out of the house by midnight on Tuesday March 8. The university would not help them find replacement housing. That same day, two members responsible for chanting the racial slurs were expelled from the university.

All members of the fraternity are currently suspended as the school and outside legal representation continue to investigate the happenings and what the final course of action will entail.

The Indiana Delta chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon finds its home on DePauw’s campus.

“As a chapter of one of the largest fraternities, and one of the most diverse chapters on DePauw’s campus we would like to formally denounce the actions of the former chapter of the University of Oklahoma,” said junior and president, Joe Haynes.

While DePauw is 732 miles from the University of Oklahoma that does not mean this incident does not affect this campus. 

“I think the incident that happened could very much happen anywhere and definitely on DePauw’s campus… we know similar circumstances have occurred,” said sophomore Ines Giramata. “Racism and all its fruits aren’t just growing in Oklahoma, it’s all over the world.”

Many people hold the belief that racism is no longer prevalent in our society, but Haynes suggests that is not true.

“It is 2015 and it is a sad fact that there are still specks of racism in our society passed down from past generations.” he said.

The racial incident on this one campus, however, has sparked debate on a national level pertaining to racism in fraternities.

“Mainly it’s just embarrassing and disappointing that the racist behaviors of a small group of individuals now seem to so many to be representative of a negative culture both in the Greek community as well as in Oklahoma,” said sophomore and member of the Xi chapter of Sigma Chi, Payton Dunning. “I am however glad that the apathy towards racism in certain environments has been exposed and scrutinized at a national level.”

Haynes echoes similar sentiments pertaining to the perception of SAE nationwide.

“Unfortunately, we cannot control an individual’s upbringing nor beliefs,” he said. “But we are appalled that those who temporarily bore the name ‘SAE’ have thrust our organization into a dark light—forcing people to question our beliefs, virtues, morals and integrity as an organization and brotherhood.”

The actions of the SAEs on OU’s campus are not representative of the organization in its entirety.

“We as SAEs are proud to consider ourselves true gentlemen, and those men do not fit that description," Haynes said.

While DePauw hopefully never has to deal with an instance such as this, Giramata poses an important question.

“The right question is ‘if it did occur, how would DePauw handle it’—I think that’s the scary question I don’t want to think about.”