Oklahoma University Fraternity Closed After Racist Chant Video Posted
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
One of the nation's largest college fraternities has closed its chapter at the University of Oklahoma. Sigma Alpha Epsilon has until midnight tomorrow to vacate its house, after a video surfaced of its members chanting racial slurs. Kate Carlton Greer of member station KGOU reports the university also moved swiftly to punish the fraternity. And a warning - there is offensive language in this story.
KATE CARLTON GREER, BYLINE: Hundreds of students gathered this morning at the University of Oklahoma to protest the video.
UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: If you see racism and you don't say nothing about it, then you are only assisting the problem. Do you all get what I'm saying?
GREER: The recording showed Sigma Alpha Epsilon members on a bus, singing a highly derogatory, racist chant that also included a phrase about lynching and saying no black people would ever be admitted. OU senior Samuel Iroanya says the video is just a glimpse of the discrimination that sometimes occurs on campus.
SAMUEL IROANYA: Unfortunately it took something this big to make our campus aware that the things we're talking about are not just issues we're sitting at home making up. They're issues that actually do exist, and racism is alive. So we have to stop acting like we don't see the big elephant in the room.
GREER: Not long after the video went viral late yesterday, the national office of Sigma Alpha Epsilon ordered the chapter to close. Brandon Weghorst is a fraternity spokesman.
BRANDON WEGHORST: Our board of directors didn't even hesitate to close the chapter, because this is absolutely not tolerable. This is something that we will not accept, and we do not need this type of behavior in Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
GREER: University President David Boren says he's considering harsh disciplinary actions. During a press conference, Boren called the students' behavior despicable and said he hoped the fraternity members would just leave the University.
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DAVID BOREN: For 1 percent or less to tarnish the image of 99 percent who are incredible young people who do love and care about each other, who do respect each other - it's just a terrible thing that this could happen.
GREER: While an investigation continues, some students, like Delatrice Staley, say the closing of the chapter isn't enough. She's frustrated that some want to suspend instead of expel the fraternity members for using such harsh racial language.
DELATRICE STALEY: Why should I feel uncomfortable here on campus because another group wants to call me [expletive] or something like that? Too much in the black community we always have to take the stand and, oh, we're going to teach all the people about goodness. Ignorance is not an excuse for racism.
GREER: Staley worries that even with severe punishment, discrimination will continue at OU. That's something both students and university administrators have to grapple with now. For NPR News, I'm Kate Carlton Greer in Norman, Okla. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.