Okla. university closes fraternity after racist video surfaces

OKLAHOMA CITY — The University of Oklahoma has closed a fraternity linked to a racist video where students are shown singing racial epithets and ordered its members to move out of the house, University President David Boren said on Monday.

“Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between the University and the local SAE (Sigma Alpha Epsilon) chapter are hereby severed,” Boren said in a statement. Members have until midnight on Tuesday to vacate the premises.

In the 10-second video posted online on Sunday and replayed by several media outlets, students on a bus chanted in unison using offensive language referring to black Americans and vowing to never admit them into the fraternity. It was not immediately clear when the video was taped.

“To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you. You are disgraceful,” Boren said.

Boren walked alongside hundreds of students at a solidarity rally on campus on Monday morning that came hours after the Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national leadership suspended its members at the University of Oklahoma over the video.

The incident comes at time of increased attention on U.S. racial tensions following several incidents in recent months of unarmed black people being fatally shot by police. Over the weekend, ceremonies in Selma, Alabama, marked the 50th anniversary of a violent crackdown on a civil rights march there that became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

The fraternity in Oklahoma was hit by graffiti overnight with one message painted on its building calling for it to be torn down, local media reports said.

“We apologize for the unacceptable and racist behavior of the individuals in the video, and we are disgusted that any member would act in such a way,” Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national headquarters said in a statement.

Other chapters of the fraternity have also faced punishment before over racially charged incidents at other college campuses.

The group’s leadership said it had determined members of its Kappa chapter at the University of Oklahoma were involved in the latest incident.

“I was not only shocked and disappointed but disgusted by the outright display of racism displayed in the video,” Brad Cohen, the fraternity’s national president, said in the statement.

Additional reporting by Chris Michaud.

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