Students and officials at the University of Oklahoma are outraged after a video surfaced Sunday night showing members of the school's Sigma Alpha Epilson fraternity chanting racist lyrics.
In the video, members of the fraternity can be heard singing a song that includes the line “There will never be a n***** in SAE." The clip has since amassed a substantial number of views and drawn severe criticism from OU students and social media users alike.
Dozens of OU students gathered on the campus Monday morning to protest the overt racism exhibited by the fraternity.
Among them were members of the university’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, a governing body that oversees the school’s nine historically African-American Greek organizations.
Student leaders of the NPHC have expressed their own frustration and anger with the incident and have declared their intentions to address racial intolerance on the school's campus.
“On behalf of the NPHC community, I can say that we were extremely disturbed by the actions depicted in the video that is circulating. This incident shows the social climate that we are living in as African-American students,” Christopher Flix, president of the NPHC, told The Huffington Post on Monday.
“Stereotypes and discrimination should not be an acceptable part of our socialization, especially in groups that are supposed to stand for familial values," Flix went on.
Since the video surfaced, it has prompted frank conversations on social media about race and racial intolerance in American society.
University of Oklahoma President David Boren reflected on these sentiments in a statement Monday expressing his own extreme disappointment with the fraternity’s behavior.
“To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you: You are disgraceful,” Boren said Monday. “You should not have the privilege of calling yourself ‘Sooners.’ Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots. Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity. Real Sooners treat all people with respect.”
Flix told HuffPost that he, like many OU students, appreciates Boren's remarks. However, Flix and other students remain hopeful that the fraternity members will be held accountable for their actions.
According to statements issued Monday on behalf of Boren and the National Sigma Alpha Epsilon office, the university’s SAE chapter will officially be closed.
"In addition, all of the members have been suspended, and those members who are responsible for the incident may have their membership privileges revoked permanently," the national SAE office said.
However, Flix said that the consequences must extend beyond disciplinary action. He argued that the OU community must acknowledge the emotional trauma the incident has caused for many people, and must deal with it appropriately.
"We want to allow all voices to be heard in this matter, and we want to ensure that great thought is placed on how we can begin to heal and reconcile within the larger OU community," he said.
Meanwhile, the NPHC is planning a number of campuswide initiatives to help weed out similar offensive behavior among students.
“Intolerance did not die with the Emancipation Proclamation, nor the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is an issue that is still relevant today, and it is on us as a society to set a new cultural standard,” Flix told HuffPost.
“This is also an opportunity to encourage people who have been bystanders in situations of injustice to have the bravery to speak out," he went on. "More people need to speak out against intolerance if we are to ever find a true resolution and experience unity.”
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