• 72°

We can all stand to learn from OU video

The Oklahoman

YOU are disgraceful.”

University of Oklahoma President David Boren summed it up pretty well Monday morning in his remarks at a protest and rally on campus following the release of a racist video involving OU students. Disgraceful, indeed.

The cellphone video was made aboard a bus that carried members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity to a weekend event. The video, in which several young men take part in a truly vile song aimed at blacks, was released anonymously Sunday to The OU Daily, the university’s student newspaper, and quickly went viral.

The video captures many of those on the bus singing, to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Instead they sing, “There will never be a (N-word) in SAE,” and include a line about lynching. It reflects a mindset from the 1960s.

Reaction was swift, as it should have been.

Sunday night, the fraternity’s national office ordered the Norman chapter disbanded. (The OU Daily reported that individuals were seen exiting the fraternity house with suitcases about 11:30 p.m.) Boren on Monday said all ties between the university and the local SAE chapter had been severed. He ordered the house closed, and said members had until midnight Tuesday to move out.

In addition, an investigation was underway to see whether further sanctions could be applied to individuals who took a leadership role in the incident, Boren said. “We will look at all possible punishment and what is available under the law.”

At an early morning rally, Boren had scolded those in the video and told the hundreds who turned out that, “Real Sooners are not bigots, real Sooners are not racist.” The fraternity members who were on the bus have been labeled as such. So too have all the fraternity’s current members. Just like that, dozens of lives have been altered forever.

Meantime it would be interesting to know the genesis of this chant. Washington Post reporter Terrence McCoy noted that the fraternity had come under scrutiny on several occasions through the years, including in 2013 when the chapter of Washington University in St. Louis was suspended for allegedly photographing black students “while pledges recited rap lyrics laced with racial slurs.”

Yet this episode has cast a poor light on more than just the SAE fraternity at OU. Although Boren said “these values (reflected in the video) are not our values,” the fallout also attaches to the university and the state as a whole. Fair or not, Oklahoma is what many around the country will most remember after watching reports about this story. That’s among the many truly unfortunate aspects to this story.

Boren said the best way to send a message to the campus and indeed the country is to make it clear that “there is zero tolerance for this kind of racist and bigoted behavior.” The actions taken against SAE make that clear.

As members of the fraternity pack up and move out of the house, Boren said, “I hope they think long and hard about what they’ve done. I hope they think long and hard about how words can hurt and injure other people.”

We’ll add our own: That these disgraced college students — and all of us — manage to learn from this awful event something about decency and kindness and the consequences of our actions.

Comments

News

Forest abandons lawsuit challenging Cooper executive orders

Education

Salisbury-Rowan NAACP hosts virtual town hall with superintendent

Nation/World

Crews try to tame California wildfire as heat wave arrives

Coronavirus

Nursing home outbreak first reported last week sees first COVID-19 death

Coronavirus

1,400 face masks given out at county’s drive-thru giveaway

Crime

Blotter: August 14

Business

With more than 1,500 patrons in two weeks, High Rock Lake restaurant gets off to hot start

Business

State awards $584,100 grant to Three Rivers Land Trust for farmland preservation in Cabarrus County

Crime

Teen faces laundry list of charges after string of larcenies

Crime

Salisbury man faces charges after trying to retrieve phone from police

Crime

Police: Father hospitalized after being shot in argument with son

Education

RSS teachers adapting classrooms to the pandemic

Education

Shoutouts

Coronavirus

County launches paramedic program for those recovering COVID-19

Education

Cooper directs $95.6 million for students affected by COVID-19

Education

RCCC named school on the rise

Local

Conversations get started on planning for diversity mural, street painting

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools welcomes new teachers

Education

Study highlights need to improve food environments around NC’s HBCUs

Coronavirus

County reports new COVID-19 death outside of nursing home

Crime

Man robbed at gunpoint at South Main Street gas station

Business

Embracing the outdoors: downtown restaurants, coffee shops work to expand outdoor seating

Local

Spencer man killed after being knocked into ditch by vehicle on Old Concord Road

Local

Activists talk tear gas ban, renaming police officers, Confederate streets during mock council meeting