Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 7 News List

US university expels fraternity over race chant video

AFP, WASHINGTON

The University of Oklahoma banned a major fraternity from its campus on Monday over a YouTube video that shows some of its members singing a racist chant.

The video came to light over the weekend, just as the US was marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma, Alabama, civil rights marches.

The chant — sung to the tune of a nursery rhyme — used the racially charged “N-word” and refers to lynching in affirming that blacks would never be members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, one of the biggest fraternity networks in the US.

The fraternity’s national headquarters suspended its University of Oklahoma chapter and apologized for the “unacceptable” incident.

However, officials at the university in Norman, Oklahoma, went further, shutting down the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house and ordering its members to immediately find other places to live.

“As far as I’m concerned, the house will not be back, not as long as I’m president,” University of Oklahoma president David Boren told a news conference.

It also began an investigation to confirm who among the 30,000 students attending the university participated in the video.

However, Boren said that the campus’ Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter has not been forthcoming with details.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national headquarters in Illinois issued a statement apologizing for “the unacceptable and racist behavior of the individuals in the video.”

“This type of racist behavior will not be tolerated and is not consistent with the values and morals of our fraternity,” it said.

The video went viral on social media after it was posted on YouTube on Sunday by Unheard Movement, an African-American student group at the university.

Nine seconds long, it was apparently shot in a bus, with young men in tuxedos punching the air with their fists and a blonde woman hoisting a glass of wine.

It is unknown when the video was taken.

Oklahoma City television station KOCO reported that some Sigma Alpha Epsilon members left the fraternity house overnight on Sunday under police protection.

Meanwhile, vandals spray-painted graffiti onto the brick building, which read: “Tear it down.”

Several hundred students turned out early on Monday for a protest, attended by Boren and members of the university’s popular American football team.

Online, a crowdfunding appeal went out on Indiegogo for Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s longtime chef at the University of Oklahoma, who is African-American.

“He is about to lose his job because of a bus full of racist kids,” said Blake Burkhart, a graduate of the university.

With 15,000 members, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is one of the biggest fraternity networks in the US, with more than 200 chapters on campuses nationwide.

News of the video came as US President Barack Obama spoke about how the dark shadow of racism still hangs over the nation.

“We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won,” he said on Saturday by the Selma bridge where African-Americans and the police clashed in 1965.

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