Oklahoma fraternity to close after racist chant caught on video
'I'd be glad if they left. I might even pay the bus fare for them,' university president says
The president of the University of Oklahoma lambasted members of a fraternity who participated in a racist chant caught on video and ordered that they vacate their house by Tuesday night.
President David Boren said he was sickened and couldn't eat or sleep after learning about the video Sunday afternoon. It shows several people on a bus participating in a chant that included a racial slur, referenced lynching and indicated black students would never be admitted to OU's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
For students to say they're going to lynch an entire group of people. ... It's disgusting.— OU Unheard communications director Alexis Hall
Boren attended a pre-dawn rally organized by students and lambasted those fraternity members as "disgraceful" and called their behaviour "reprehensible." He said the university was looking into a range of punishment, including expulsion.
"This is not who we are," Boren said at a midday news conference. "I'd be glad if they left. I might even pay the bus fare for them."
Local chapter closing
The national fraternity released a statement Sunday night saying it was "embarrassed" by the "unacceptable and racist" behaviour. It also said it would close the local chapter.
Boren later released a statement saying members had until midnight Tuesday to remove their personal belongings from the fraternity house. A fraternity is an organization of male college students in the U.S.
A link to the video was posted by OU Unheard, a black student group on campus, after someone anonymously called it to the group's attention, communications director Alexis Hall said Monday.
"We immediately needed to share that with the OU student body," said Hall, a junior. "For students to say they're going to lynch an entire group of people. ... It's disgusting."
It's unclear who recorded the video, when it was recorded and who initially posted it online. Hill said a link to the video was sent Sunday afternoon to the student group, which formed in the fall in response to a fatal police shooting in Ferguson, Mo.
The video appears to have been taken on a charter bus, with at least one of the chanting students wearing a tuxedo.
"I was shocked they were just doing it openly on the bus, like they were proud of it," said Jared Scarborough, a junior in construction science. "From the chant you could tell they had done it before. It wasn't a first-time thing. And it was everybody. And the fist-pumping."
The University of Oklahoma, located in the southern Oklahoma City suburb of Norman, has about 27,000 students, about five per cent of whom are black. The fraternity system is largely segregated.