SAE Announces Steps To Tackle Racism Within Fraternity

Mar 18, 2015

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.
Credit 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.

The fraternity has come under fire after a video surfaced that showed member of the University of Oklahoma chapter singing a racist chant. SAE and the university severed ties with the local chapter in Norman and closed the house last week.

SAE executive director Blaine Ayers said the fraternity is investigating whether other chapters are engaging in similar racist activities.

“I can promise that, just as we did with Oklahoma, if we learn of any discrimination or unacceptable behavior currently going on, we will be swift in our response,” Ayers said.

SAE Spokesperson Brandon Weghorst said the fraternity is investigating who taught the racist song to Oklahoma students and whether or not it has been sung at other chapters.

“The teacher of it - that’s part of our investigation currently with the chapters, especially those that have been named in allegations to determine where they might be substantiated, if that’s the case, and where that behavior may exist,” Weghorst said.

SAE has only kept track of members’ race since 2013. Since that time, Ayers said 3 percent of incoming members are black while 20 percent identify as a member of a minority group.