Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon: Frat Investigating 'Other Incidents With Chapters or Members'

"The chant is in no way endorsed by the organization," SAE national office says.

ByABC News
March 10, 2015, 11:00 AM

— -- The national headquarters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon is investigating “several other incidents” brought to its attention in the wake of a video purportedly showing members of the University of Oklahoma's SAE chapter singing a racist chant.

"Several other incidents with chapters or members have been brought to the attention of the headquarters staff and leaders, and each of those instances will be investigated for further action," the apologetic fraternity said in a statement Monday night.

The national office, which has disbanded the local chapter, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The video, which surfaced over the weekend, was posted to Twitter by Unheard, which describes itself as "an alliance of black students organized for change within campus administration and atmosphere."

The video shows young men on a bus chanting, "There will never be a n***** at SAE."

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house is seen at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma.

The Unheard tweet, directed at OU president David Boren, said, "Racism is alive at The University of Oklahoma."

Boren said in a statement Monday that all ties and affiliations between the school and chapter are "hereby severed."

As for the song, a former member of the Oklahoma SAE chapter told ABC News he doesn't know whether it originated at Oklahoma or elsewhere.

"I hope it didn't start where I was," said Will James, an SAE at Oklahoma from 2001 to 2005. "But I really don't know."

James, 31, believes he was the second African-American member of the Oklahoma SAE chapter and doesn't think there has been another since him.

The Edmond, Oklahoma, musician said he thinks the racist song has "probably" been sung at other SAE chapters.

"We would find songs from other chapters," he said, adding, "singing on the bus rides is a tradition we did."

But James said they didn't sing "anything like that song" when he was a student. "When I was there, I don't believe anyone would have stood for anything like that," he said.

SAE has an official song book, James said, as well as "songs that just rise out of tradition."

He said most of the official songs were about fraternity symbolism, while the songs that came from tradition "celebrated drinking and partying." But "no one was ever taken down by any song we had," he added.

While James said he no longer has a copy of the song book, he said the racist chant was "definitely not in the official book."

"When we have those bus rides to date parties, we would sing our songs from the book and what we picked up from tradition," he said. "Everyone knew the words and sang along."

James said he considered the chapter diverse when he was in school.

"There were Middle Eastern members, there were Hispanic members, we were all over the place," he said. "We had various socioeconomic backgrounds and nobody cared, it was inclusive. And so, I just I can't imagine how that culture has shifted so far to allow that song, or any song that would be disparaging to anybody is happening at that house."

The national SAE headquarters said in a statement Monday it has never sanctioned such a song. "Some reports have alleged that the racist chant in the video is part of a Sigma Alpha Epsilon tradition, which is completely false," the statement read. "The fraternity has a number of songs that have been in existence for more than a century, but the chant is in no way endorsed by the organization nor part of any education whatsoever."

The office added: "Sigma Alpha Epsilon is not a racist, sexist or bigoted fraternity. Not only have we provided education and training on these and other issues, we are working to make sure that discussions and awareness on these and other topics is at the forefront of our membership experience."