Two days after a viral video showed Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members from the University of Oklahoma chanting racial slurs, President William Powers Jr. announced the dean of students would investigate whether UT’s SAE chapter has traditionally used a similar chant.
In the viral video, SAE members use multiple anti-black slurs and reference lynching, singing, “You can hang them from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me.”
In the hours following the release of the video, OU President David Boren severed ties between OU and the SAE chapter and ordered all fraternity members to move out of the SAE house, effective immediately. Boren also expelled two students who, he said, played a “leadership role” in singing the chant.
In Powers’ press release, he said Boren’s actions raised questions about UT’s response to a “border control” party the Fiji fraternity held in February.
The dean of students investigated the event, in which guests wore ponchos, sombreros and construction gear with names such as “Pablo Sanchez” written on them, and concluded the party did not violate any University rules and would not result in any penalty for the fraternity.
“Both of these incidents were hurtful and offended many,” Powers said. “I deplore this behavior, which is contrary to the core values of The University of Texas at Austin.”
Powers said the dean’s office is still working with Fiji.
“Our dean of students has worked extensively with the group to educate its members on the harm it has caused and to reconcile it to the greater community,” Powers said. “The FIJIs have apologized, have been fully engaged with the dean of students’ efforts, and have reached out to Latino groups. … Much work remains but this is a positive start.”
In the statement, Powers also referenced a widely-circulated document of alleged Fiji pledge rules. The rules, which include "No interracial dating" and "No Mexicans," were originally posted on the internet in 2007 and have never been authenticated.
"Through its programs, through its efforts in the U.S. Supreme Court, and through its student and faculty recruiting, The University of Texas remains committed to creating a diverse campus," Powers said in the statement. "I remain committed to a campus that welcomes everyone."