Report: OU chant is widespread, likely originated at national SAE event

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The racist chant Sigma Alpha Epsilon members at the University of Oklahoma sang on video was not restricted to the OU chapter, and is likely widespread throughout many chapters of the fraternity, according to the results of an OU investigation released Friday.

“[The chant] was learned by chapter members on a national leadership cruise sponsored by the national organization of Sigma Alpha Epsilon,” the report, released after an OU investigation, said. “Over time, the chant was formalized in the local SAE chapter and was taught to pledges as part of the formal and informal pledgeship process."

Earlier this month, several members of the OU SAE chapter were captured on video singing about how black men would never be allowed to join SAE. The video, which also referenced lynching, immediately went viral. Less than a day after the video’s release, OU President David Boren severed ties between the university and the fraternity, ordered the fraternity house shut down and expelled two members he said had a “leadership role” in singing the chant.

The video’s release also prompted an investigation at UT, after rumors spread online that UT’s SAE chapter taught its members similar chants.

“Rumors also are circulating that a chant similar to the one at OU has been traditional in the UT chapter of SAE,” President William Powers Jr. said in a statement. “Our dean of students said Monday she is looking into this matter as is standard practice in such cases.”

So far, the University has not responded to the results of the OU investigation. The national SAE chapter released a statement confirming that the chant was likely taught during the national leadership cruise four years ago.

The leadership retreat lasts six days, and Executive Director Blaine Ayers said he assumed the chant was shared during a social gathering rather than one of the leadership seminars.

In a statement, Ayers said SAE’s internal investigation findings were similar to the conclusions from the OU investigation.

“We remain committed to identifying and rooting out racist behavior from SAE, and we are actively investigating all of our local organizations to determine whether there are issues in any other location,” Ayers said. “We intend to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and this will take time...but our investigation to date shows no evidence the song was widely shared across the broader organization.”