After video leaked of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members at the University of Oklahoma singing a racist song, school officials didn't hesitate to suspend the organization and shut it down.
For SAE's house chef, Howard Dixon, it reportedly means unexpectedly losing the job he'd had for more than ten years. Thanks to two separate fundraising efforts, however, that blow may come with some cushion.
One campaign for Dixon, launched on Indiegogo on Sunday, has raised more than $43,000 toward its $50,000 goal.
"Today we received the news that some ignorant kids have quickly destroyed something that thousands of men built," wrote Blake Burkhart, a former student and the fundraiser's organizer. "Because of these kids' actions, many will be affected. None more so than Howard."
"That man is going to walk up to the SAE house... and hear that he no longer has a job. He is going to learn who [he] has been working for," Burkhart continued. "And through some cruel twist of fate, he has to lose the job that he has held for over a decade. He is going to lose his job because of a bus full of racist kids."
Burkhart didn't immediately return a request for comment; According to The Oklahoma Daily, the future of the staff employed by the chapter remains "unclear."
— TALK RADIO 570 KVI (@KVIseattle) March 10, 2015
Some donors have shared the campaign on social media using the hashtag #helphoward, or left messages of support on the campaign page itself.
"Good luck to you, Howard," reads one such message from an anonymous donor. "Thank you Blake for helping your fellow man. Best wishes to everyone at OU, to learn to overcome history and forgive one another."
A second fundraiser for Dixon, started on GoFundMe, has raised more than $12,000 -- and hopes to raise $38,000 more.
"Howard has been a hard-working and loyal employee for over 15 years, always making it in through rain, sleet and snow," the GoFundMe organizer wrote. "He was one of my best friends during my time in the house, and my first thoughts are for him and his family. He has always been there for us and my heart is broken for him tonight."
A representative from the GoFundMe fundraiser told The Huffington Post that both of the campaigns' organizers are in contact with each other, and said all the proceeds will go directly to Dixon.
"This is for nothing other than helping a dear friend and a good man land on his feet," said the organizer, who wished to remain anonymous.
In an interview with CBS, Dixon called the fraternity’s racist chant “stupid and selfish,” especially for an organization that’s “supposed to be about brotherhood.”
Still, he’ll miss the job.
“There will never be another job like this one,” he added, saying he still considers SAE like “family.”
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