SAE song investigation spreads to chapters in two other states

'If we don't know about it, we can't stop it,' says spokesperson

Officials from Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) are investigating reports a racist chant that surfaced in a viral video of fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma (UO) may have also been used at chapters in Texas and Louisiana, the Associated Press reports.

The video shows students on a bus to an SAE event chanting in unison, using racial slurs, referencing lynching, and promising to never admit black students into the fraternity. UO closed the SAE chapter and, in a move questioned by legal experts, expelled two unidentified students shortly after the video came to light.

Can schools expel students for racial slurs? Experts are divided

On Thursday, officials in SAE's national office said they had received reports the chant was also used by chapters at the University of Texas, Austin (UT Austin) and Louisiana Tech. The UT Austin chapter reportedly is cooperating, while the Louisiana Tech investigation remains in the early stages.

Brandon Weghorst, a spokesman for SAE, stressed that the national organization was unaware the chant was being used. "We had no idea of this type of behavior was going on underground," he said, adding "It's dangerous because—if we don't know about it, we can't stop it."

SAE chapters speak out

A spokesperson from Louisiana Tech says the school has contacted its SAE chapter to look into the allegations. Dave Guerin, a spokesperson for the school, says the chapter "assured" administrators the chant is not currently being used.

However, the Associated Press reports the investigation at Louisiana Tech centers on behavior in 2010. "We can't really attest to back in 2010," Guerin noted.

Luke Cone, president of the SAE chapter at UT Austin, also denied the use of the chant. He speaks "on the behalf of my fraternity brothers that we are all profoundly distressed" by the language in the video, he said in a statement.

SAE—already known as 'deadliest' fraternity—now fighting racism charges, too

Other chapters not actively investigated have also spoken out against the video. "In my four years, I never have seen anything or heard anything like that in my individual chapter," says Will Sneed, a former president of SAE at the University of Arkansas.

Meanwhile, in a statement released Thursday, the OU football team called for leaders of the local SAE chapter to be "severely" disciplined. "As a team, we have come to a consensus that, in any organization, the leadership is responsible for the culture created, and in this case, encouraged... Allowing this culture to thrive goes against everything it means to be a Sooner," the statement read (Murphy, Crawford, AP/U-T San Diego, 3/12).

The takeaway: Responding to allegations that a racist chant used by a chapter of SAE at the University of Oklahoma may also be used at schools in Texas and Louisiana, local leaders of the fraternity spoke out against its use and denied ever having heard it before.


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