University of Oklahoma President David Boren said the university is reviewing a racist video in an effort to take potential disciplinary action against individual students after banning their fraternity from campus.
Earlier in the day, Boren banned the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity from campus and ordered that its members be out of their house by Tuesday night. Moving vans were at the house Monday afternoon.
A racist video posted online Sunday night went viral and became a national story that prompted protests on campus Monday morning, when Boren addressed students before later holding a news conference.
"We are commencing an investigation, not only of the chapter ... but we are also going to look at any individual perpetrators. We have a student code which prevents discrimination ... a hostile environment under Title VI of the Civil Rights law of 1964," he said during an 11 a.m. news conference at the North Oval's Holmberg Hall. "We're investigating whether we will be able to take any action against individual students."
"As they pack their bags, I hope they think long and hard about what they've done," Boren said, also noting that he didn't intend to let the chapter return.
"As far as I'm concerned they won't be back, at least while I am president of the university," he said, receiving applause at the news conference.
He said, "One or two or three individuals" in the video have been "potentially identified. ... We're making progress in identifying individuals."
It is not clear who shot the video nor when it was made.
The 10-second video, posted at 6:40 p.m. Sunday by an OU student group, features men singing "there will never be a n----r in SAE," along with a line referencing lynching.
Boren initially issued a prepared statement that read: “You are disgraceful. … Real Sooners are not bigots, real Sooners are not racist.
Boren's statement also said: "Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between this University and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed. I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow. Those needing to make special arrangements for positions shall contact the Dean of Students."
Boren's announcement of the fraternity's banishment came after he spoke to students during a protest this morning on the campus' North Oval.
Students also gathered on the school’s South Oval, some of them holding signs.
Among them were about 100 athletes, including several football players. OU head football coach Bob Stoops was on the oval, along with his brother, assistant coach Mike Stoops. Men's basketball coach Lon Kruger was also there.The athletes were not holding signs and stood in silent protest.
Bob Stoops said he was at the protest to support his players.
"It’s sad the ignorance that can still be there with some people. It’s just appalling," he said. "I was here to be with my guys. We all work with beautiful young men and women of all races. It’s just, you know, very little gets me choked up. But that hurt."
Kruger called the video "depressing."
"It’s something that should concern everyone," he said. "It’s not about athletics. It’s not about anything other than everyone being affected by this."
The group collectively walked down Lindsey Street and then turned north onto Jenkins Avenue. They gathered in a circle in front of the Barry Switzer at the stadium complex, and football player Ty Darlington led the group in a prayer.
At the end, a woman in the group shouted "Boomer" and the rest of the group responded with "Sooner," a common phrase heard during athletic events.
Protesters also could be seen holding signs. Two seniors who attended Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa — Adeisha Sawyer and Fareedah Shayeb — were on the South Oval.
"I really just feel like it’s ignorance that’s being surfaced," said Sawyer, who held a sign that depicted a black person hanging from a tree and included the lyrics of the song sung in the video. "I feel like it’s something that’s been swept under the rug for a long time. So the fact that it’s coming to light, I guess, in that sense I’m happy. But at the same time it’s still frustrating. It’s still disrespectful."
Shayeb called the video "astonishing."
"When I first saw the video, I didn’t even know what they were saying. I kept replaying it and replaying it, and I finally heard what they were saying. I must have misheard because there’s no way they’re chanting this on a bus full of people. It’s not like one person, it’s an entire bus full of people chanting this," Shayeb said. "You’re kind of happy it surfaced because you want people to know this is happening."
Marquis Ard, a 23-year-old black student who said he came to OU from Chicago in 2014, sat in the front row for Boren's news conference. When Boren said the fraternity was no longer welcome at the school, Ard, seated on top of one of the auditorium's Crimson and cream chairs, lowered his head and raised his right hand in a fist.
"That was just an homage to past black leaders, to the civil rights movement of the 1960s," Ard said. "When (Boren) said that, that's what I wanted to hear. It really hit me."
Ard said he was surprised by some of the racism he's encountered since he arrived at OU last fall. He said he has been called the N-word before by other students, and by vehicles that have driven past him as he walked through the campus and town.
So, he said, he hoped Boren's demeanor from the news conference — where the president said the university would not help affected SAE members, who have until Tuesday night to be out of their house — doesn't end as soon as this controversy does.
"We have a huge way to go here," Ard said. "I'm unapologetically black, and I will not let (SAE) actions define me."
Meanwhile, for SAE students who lived in the home, Monday was a dreary day. With rain falling and less than two days to be out of the house — not to mention Boren's insistence that the school would not help them find other accommodations — many spent the day moving boxes into trailers as dozens of news cameras watched. The walls outside the SAE home were scribbled with black spray paint, some of which was unintelligible.
But one painted line, though it was not completed, was as clear as anything Boren said.
It read "tear it d," presumably meaning "tear it down."
The crowd listening to Chelsea Davis, Unheard Exec, outside Evans Hall. pic.twitter.com/AjDr7CNbnf— Daisy (@daisycreager) March 9, 2015
Original story from Monday morning
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity has closed its chapter at the University of Oklahoma, just hours after a video appeared online Sunday night showing reported members of the organization chanting racial slurs.
“SAE is a diverse organization, and we have zero tolerance for racism or any bad behavior," Brad Cohen, the fraternity’s national president, said in a news release. "When we learned about this incident, I called an immediate board meeting, and we determined with no mental reservation whatsoever that this chapter needed to be closed immediately."
According to the release, all of the Oklahoma Kappa chapter's members have been suspended, and those members found to be responsible for the incident may have their membership privileges revoked permanently.
The announcement came after OU President David Boren said school officials were investigating the incident after OU Unheard — self-described as an alliance of black OU students — sent Boren the video.
The 10-second video, posted at 6:40 p.m. Sunday, features men singing "there will never be a n----r in SAE," along with a line referencing lynching.
The student group, in its tweet to Boren, said "racism is alive at The University of Oklahoma." Unheard alleges the video was filmed Saturday while fraternity members were en route to a date party.
Boren responded less than an hour later with a tweet of his own:
If the video is indeed of OU students, this behavior will not be tolerated and is contrary to all of our values. We are investigating. - DBo— David Boren (@President_Boren) March 9, 2015
Boren later issued an updated statement, saying that "if the reports are true, the chapter will no longer remain on campus."
After the video was posted, Unheard retweeted statements of outrage from students and others. IFC, as referenced in this tweet, stands for the Interfraternity Council.
Too many struggle to get involved in IFC for another textbook apology. Show us commitment to promoting inclusiveness. #RespondAccordinglyOU— Ernest Ezeugo (@ErnestEzeugo) March 9, 2015
A news release from Unheard states the video makes it clear that discrimination against people of color is widespread and that they "will not accept this."