OU President, State Leaders Agree, Racist Video Doesn't Represent State
NORMAN, Oklahoma - A racially charged video of an OU fraternity has received national controversy.
The university is trying to identify the members of the SAE fraternity who were caught on video chanting racial slurs.
Sooner athletes protested the video by refusing to practice Monday. Instead the team walked arm-in-arm around campus as a show of unity, and the football players weren't alone.
About 200 students, like Samuel Iroanya, expressed their outrage and disgust Monday morning at another demonstration.
"Those chants were being chanted very passionately and we just wonder why would you have this much hatred in your heart for someone just based off the color of their skin," he said.
The University of Oklahoma said it won't tolerate racism and that those fraternity members have until midnight Tuesday to get out.
OU shut down the frat house and said all of the members are on their own finding some other place to live. They rushed Monday to load trucks and U-Hauls.
While none of the OU members would say anything about the video, the fraternity's national's office had something to say about it.
"We are absolutely appalled and shocked at the video, and we cannot believe that members of SAE would even do something like that, and especially post something like that on social media. It's completely inappropriate, completely racist, and we won't tolerate it," SAE National Spokesman, Brandon Weghorst said.
This isn't the first time members of SAE have been accused of racism.
Various chapters across the country have been fined for black-face parties and a student in Oklahoma State's chapter has had a confederate flag hanging from his fraternity house window, but has since taken it down.
OU President David Boren did not mince words about what was seen and heard in the video. Boren said there will be absolutely no tolerance when it comes to racism.
He said the video made him sick, then sad that it could happen at his school.
Boren got out in front of the problem quickly to let the world know OU should not be defined by bigoted behavior.
The chanted words are despicable; resurrecting racism that should have been buried long ago.
But it made an appearance in a fist-pumping, racially-slurred chant, led by some members of OU's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter.
3/8/2015 Related Story: Video Surfaces Allegedly Showing OU Fraternity Members Chanting Racial Slur
“This is not our way. These are not our values. This is not who we are and we won't tolerate it,” Boren said.
Boren wasted no time condemning bigoted behavior during a peaceful protest Monday morning. He shut down the SAE house, severing ties with the fraternity, he said, for as long as he's president.
As members quietly loaded their belongings into SUVs and cars, Boren hoped they were using the time to reflect on a lesson of humanity that seems so obvious.
“As they pack their bags, I hope they think long and hard about what they've done,” he said. “I hope they think long and hard about how words can injure and hurt other people. This is not our way.”
The frat boys in the video are seen smiling and laughing, but OU African American History Professor Dr. Ben Keppel said the chant was far more than a joke.
"Stuff they think is funny, I have a very hard time understanding how that can be true because the references are very historically specific when you talk about on a tree, come on, we all know what that is," he said.
Tulsa state representative and vice chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, Kevin Matthews, called the whole episode unnerving and said the small-mindedness reflected on the video has to be confronted at every turn.
“This cannot be tolerated, it's dangerous. And when people start with the conversation and it's accepted, then we don't know what action is next, so we need to root it out and we need to stop it now,” Matthews said.
Boren said the university is investigating and said it's possible some of the frat guys involved could be expelled under student code violations and civil rights law.
3/9/2015 Related Story: Barry Switzer Says He Takes OU Video "Very Personally"
Boren also said he'd be happy if the students just left, because the campus doesn't have any room for racists and bigots.
The viral video is just about all everyone is talking about, and not just in Oklahoma, across the nation.
While the video gave the state a black eye, Governor Mary Fallin said our response is showing what Sooners are really about.
“It has rallied Oklahomans together to say that's unacceptable and we don't say things like that in the state of Oklahoma and people pulled together to say that's not the kind of people we are," she said.
3/9/2015 Related Story: More Than $25K Raised For OU Fraternity Chef After House Closure
Oklahoma Senator James Lankford said, "Our state has made significant strides since the Tulsa race riots and the days when Clara Luper led our state out of ignorance, we must continue that progress."