Sigma Alpha Epsilon: 5 Other Chapters Knew Racist Chant

February 12, 2016

At least five other chapters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon also knew of the racist chant heard at the University of Oklahoma last year, an investigation by the national office found. The fraternity, however, said it could not confirm that SAE originated the chant, which featured lyrics promising that SAE would never accept black members.

"Sigma Alpha Epsilon polled every collegiate member over the course of several months," the fraternity said in a statement Thursday. "We learned there were five chapters that acknowledged hearing the chant in the past five years. However, none of those members who responded said they heard it more recently than 2012, except for the incident at the University of Oklahoma. We provided additional education to those particular chapters on diversity and inclusion to make sure their culture has not deviated from our values and mission."

The fraternity has a long history of its members exhibiting racist and discriminatory behavior. In July, SAE hired a director of diversity and inclusion to oversee new diversity initiatives following the controversy at the University of Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Members of the Oklahoma chapter were caught on video singing the chant -- a song that set racist slurs, lynching imagery and promises of discrimination to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" -- last March, prompting investigations by both the university and the fraternity. Those earlier inquiries determined that the Oklahoma chapter first learned the chant while on a leadership cruise organized by SAE.

“That is where it was learned, and they brought it back from that cruise,” David Boren, Oklahoma’s president, said at the time. “Does it mean that they were taught by some official of the national chapter? No, I don’t think so. But it does mean that it’s known by a lot of people from a lot of places.”

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