There should never be bigots in US
Fraternity brothers at U. of Oklahoma chant racial slurs in video
The actions of a few can never speak for the mentalities of the majority. A video featuring brothers of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity Chapter at the University of Oklahoma went viral yesterday morning, calling the conduct of the entire organization into question. In the video, brothers were on a bus, dressed in suits, chanting racial slurs and affirming that there will never be an "N word" in SAE. Sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know it,” the brothers sang, “You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me, there will never be a nigg*r in SAE.” Simply put, the actions of these students are deplorable, abhorrent and utterly shameful. The song itself is particularly disturbing not only for its lyrics, but because it sounded rehearsed and traditional. The scene recorded in the video does not seem to be the first time these students sang their wretched song. The actions of these fraternity members despicably affirms the power of an individual’s ability to perpetuate hate. Yet, the handling of the entire situation affirms the necessity of taking strong stances on racism and standing by such ideals.
The courts of social media convicted the boys as mindless racists and bigots. The responses from university and SAE officials echoed this sentiment. Both entities called for the immediate closure of the SAE chapter and their house. In a statement that was posted on the U. of Oklahoma website and his personal twitter account, university President David Boren gave the boys a deadline of midnight tonight to have their items removed from the house. In condemning their behavior, Boren’s statement was partially addressed to the brothers of the SAE chapter. “You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves ‘Sooners.’ Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots,” said Boron. Similarly, SAE national suspended all of the chapter members at the U. of Oklahoma and issued an apology on behalf of the entire organization. The handling of this despicable showing of ignorance was executed with the upmost of decency. Not only did the university and national chapter issue swift responses to the video, they did so confidently and with strength.
As students of a state university only slightly larger than the U. of Oklahoma, we can only hope that Rutgers administration would act similarly if ever confronted with such a visibly reprehensible situation. Yet, at Rutgers, the relationship between University administration and students is severely lacking. This past semester, when students began protesting with the "Black Lives Matter" movement, they were met with opposition from other members of the student body. University President Robert L. Barchi issued a response to these actions, yet his statement was nowhere near as bold and honest as that of President Boren. Barchi’s words made no mention of the Black Lives Matter movement and failed to acknowledge student use of #RU4BlackLives. Quite honestly, the statement can easily be taken out of context and applied to any situation of protest where tolerance is necessary. In place of Barchi, Chancellor Richard L. Edwards and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Felicia McGinty have made themselves available to students and responded to concerns. However, Barchi is the face of the University and transparency on his part would be welcomed with open arms.
The Rutgers University Chapter of SAE appropriately issued a response to the video, emphasizing that each chapter is unique and the responsibility to uphold fraternity ideas rests with each chapter alone. In a post on their Facebook page, they highlighted the University’s diversity and reaffirmed their commitment “to the non discriminatory culture.” As a multiethnic organization of students, their words and actions prove that they are unlike the now ex-SAE brothers of the U. of Oklahoma.
In his statement, President Boren called for a zero-tolerance policy, and that is precisely what is needed. We most assuredly do not live in a post-racial America — racism is alive and well. Yet through the collective actions of the few and the many, the mentalities of the whole will change.