KGOU

Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Sterling Shepard, Ty Darlington, Zach Sanchez, Bob Stoops, Charles Tapper, Trevor Knight, and Eric Striker walk arm-in-arm to protest campus racism in March 2015.
Thant Aung / The Oklahoma Daily

The University of Oklahoma takes on Clemson University in the Orange Bowl Thursday evening. The rematch of the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl is the first of two national playoff semifinal games on New Year’s Eve.

The Sooners are two wins away from an eighth national championship, and a second for head football coach Bob Stoops. He attributes some of the team's success to an incident off the field before the season even began, when the Sooners were coming off a 40-6 shellacking at the hands of the Tigers.

As protests sweep across the University of Missouri, Yale, and other colleges, University of Oklahoma president David Boren reflects on how the campus he leads reacted to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon incident eight months ago.

Since a Snapchat video of University of Oklahoma football player Eric Striker's response to Sigma Alpha Epsilon's racist chant went viral, ESPN interviewed more than 40 players from 15 programs across the country and surveyed another 99 players anonymously about their reaction to Striker and their own encounters with racism and profiling. Many players applauded Striker for speaking out and were eager to share their own opinions and experiences that mirror his at Oklahoma.

Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

The fraternity connected to a racist video that roiled the University of Oklahoma campus during spring has announced the hiring of a new director of diversity and inclusion.

Evanston, Illinois-based Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity said in a news release Thursday it had hired North Carolina native Ashlee Canty to help oversee efforts to enhance diversity at the fraternity's more than 200 chapters.

The University of Oklahoma’s first chief diversity officer starts his new job soon, three months after the university kicked out a fraternity and expelled two students who were seen on video leading a racist chant.

University president David Boren was praised for acting swiftly once the video was made public last month. But the University of Oklahoma is one of only four schools in the Big 12 Conference without a chief diversity officer.

Some minority students at the university are asking, what took the university president so long to hire one?

University of Oklahoma President David Boren announces the appointment of Jabar Shumate as OU's new Vice President for the University Community during a March 31 press conference.
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

University of Oklahoma President David Boren has named former state Senator and Representative Jabar Shumate as OU's Vice President for the University, a newly created role that will focus on diversity and outreach.

"I knew that this person had to be someone in whom I had complete trust. Complete trust in their actions, complete trust in their motives, complete trust in their good judgment," Boren said during a Tuesday press conference. 

University of Oklahoma President David Boren addresses reporters on the steps of Evans Hall Friday to announce the findings of OU's investigation into the local chapter of the SIgma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Updated 5:06 p.m.: SAE reaction to University of Oklahoma investigation

The SAE national office confirmed in a webpost that the fraternity's former OU chapter members "likely learned a racist chant while attending a national Leadership School about four years ago." Regardless, SAE executive director Blaine Ayers believes that the chant is not pervasive across the fraternity's 237 groups.

Ayers said SAE's investigation is ongoing and they are looking at each of the fraternity's local chapters.

Levi Pettit, center, walks into the Fairview Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City with state senator Anastasia Pittman and pastor J.A. Reed, Jr.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

One of the two Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members who was expelled from the University of Oklahoma for participating in a racist chant apologized on Wednesday. Levi Pettit spoke with black politicians, pastors and community leaders for about two hours and later addressed the press at the Fairview Missionary Baptist Church in northeast Oklahoma City, but Pettit would not reveal how he learned the infamous chant.

The exterior of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house on the University of Oklahoma campus, shortly before the letters were removed from the building March 9, 2015.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

A former University of Oklahoma student seen participating in a racist chant in a video made aboard a fraternity party bus is scheduled to speak at an event sponsored by a leading black Oklahoma state legislator.

The Dallas Morning News reports Levi Pettit, who is from the Dallas area, will make his first public remarks since controversy erupted over the Sigma Alpha Epsilon video went viral.

The exterior of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house on the University of Oklahoma campus, shortly before the letters were removed from the building March 9, 2015.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The executive director of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national office announced plans Wednesday morning to combat racism and insensitivity within the fraternity at a press conference in Chicago.

Those steps include the hiring of an executive director of diversity and inclusion, a mandatory online diversity and education program for all SAE members and staff,  a national advisory committee on diversity and inclusion, and establishment of a confidential hotline to report offensive, inappropriate or illegal behavior.

Diversity Concerns Linger On University Of Oklahoma Campus

Mar 17, 2015
Demonstrators gather outside Evans Hall on the University of Oklahoma campus Monday morning to protest the video with racist chants allegedly by Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members.
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

In the days after a racially charged video circulated on social media and gained national attention, minority students at the University of Oklahoma spoke out, many expressing concerns about their experiences on campus.

The leaked video shows Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members chanting that African American males would never be allowed in their organization. It was blatantly racist, and emotions ran high with students and faculty at the university.

The Week's News In Social Media

Mar 16, 2015

Last week’s news blew up in social media circles, from Senator Tom Cotton’s letter about Iran, to comments from MSNBC hosts about racist chants by SAE frat members at the University of Oklahoma.

Slate editor-in-chief Julia Turner joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss to round up how the news reverberated through social media.

Duct tape with the word "Unheard" covers the mouth of the Seed Sower statue on the University of Oklahoma's South Oval
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

A small group of black students at the University of Oklahoma were thrust into the national spotlight last week after a video surfaced of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members singing a racist chant.

In the days after that video surfaced, member of black social justice group Unheard seemed to be everywhere, including CNN, ABC and NPR.

Dallas Home Of Former OU Student Picketed

Mar 13, 2015

Protesters carried small anti-racism placards and walked up and down the street in the affluent Northwest Dallas neighborhood where Parker Rice lives.

University of Oklahoma President David Boren says the school has a responsibility to educate its students and be vigilant enough to stand up to even the subtlest forms of discrimination in light of the video that made international headlines showing Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members engaging in a racist chant.

This story is not about that Parker Rice -- the University of Oklahoma student from Dallas who was expelled this week after leading racist chants in a notorious fraternity video. 

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Too few peers in the classroom. A lack of minority professors. Insensitive jokes. These were a few of the issues raised at a race and diversity town hall forum on Wednesday night at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. The forum was hosted by Unheard and the Price College of Business.

Beyond The Racist Chant: The Facts About Black Inequality In Oklahoma

Mar 11, 2015
Predominantly black northeast Oklahoma City is plagued by abandoned and vacant homes.
Shawntel Brown / Oklahoma Watch

Recent controversy over a racist chant at a University of Oklahoma fraternity focused attention on the state’s race relations. But the numbers beneath the headlines perhaps cast a longer shadow.

By almost every metric, blacks struggle in most of the quality-of-life factors in the state. Oklahoma is first in the nation, per capita, for blacks to die at the hands of police officers among states reporting. Blacks are about half as likely to own a home, are more likely to go to prison, less likely to go to college and less likely to graduate.

The exterior of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house on the University of Oklahoma campus, shortly before the letters were removed from the building March 9, 2015.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Sigma Alpha Epsilon's international headquarters may be in Illinois, but the fraternity's roots are firmly planted in the antebellum South. "We came up from Dixie land," says a ditty from an old songbook, boasting about SAE's success.

Now, nearly 160 years after its founding at the University of Alabama, another song — this one chanted by members of the frat's University ofOklahoma chapter and containing racial slurs and lynching references — hearkens back to the bad old times in the land of cotton and puts a new spotlight on the group's activities over the years.

Demonstrators gather outside Evans Hall on the University of Oklahoma campus Monday morning to protest the video with racist chants allegedly by Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members.
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Updated 8:05 p.m.: Apologies from two students involved

Two students involved in the video where a bus full of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members participated in a chant with racial slurs and derogatory language against African-Americans apologized in separate statements Tuesday evening.

The Dallas Morning News reports both teens are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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