Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: March 9, 2015
Sen. Anastasia Pittman
Rep. Kevin Matthews
Rep. George Young
Rep. Mike Shelton
Oklahoma Black Caucus leaders address racial slur from OU
Members of the Oklahoma Black Caucus responded
Monday afternoon to a video that depicts members of the University
of Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chanting a
song laced with racial slurs.
The video, taken last Saturday evening on what appeared to be a
bus, showed several fraternity members and their dates dressed in
formal wear and many can be heard chanting the offensive words.
By the time the footage surfaced Sunday evening, it quickly gained
national attention as it drew momentum in various social media channels.
By Monday morning, University of Oklahoma President David Boren
had already called for the SAE fraternity members to vacate the
chapter house in Norman, and he also moved to permanently sever
ties with the national organization.
“I am pleased with President Boren’s swift action to
call for a complete investigation in response to this incident.
His immediate decision to order all members to vacate the fraternity
house and call for OU to cut all ties from the national SAE organization
is to be commended and sends a strong message that such disgraceful
behavior will not be tolerated,” said Sen. Anastasia
Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, and chairwoman of the Black Caucus.
“As an alumnus from the University of Oklahoma and as the
state’s only female African American legislator, I am disheartened
at the obvious lack of tolerance for diversity within these student
fraternities. This is a prime example of how one incident can quickly
become systemic and unravel years of hard work by many black and
whites who foster diversity and tolerance.”
Echoing similar sentiments, Rep. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa and vice
chair of the Black Caucus noted his disappointment as well.
“I am disgusted and upset such racist beliefs still exist
in 2015,” said Rep. Matthews. “I support President Boren’s
decisive action to immediately remove this group from the campus
community. Intolerance has no place in a progressive society, and
racism like this video depicts certainly has no place at a state-funded
The video was first posted online by a black student group at the
university, but it was not clear how it was obtained. The incident
remains under investigation, but African American legislative leaders
pledged to press for answers.
“This video is just a sign of an issue much larger than this
particular incident,” said Rep. George Young, D-Oklahoma City.
“We do not need to be talking about intolerance and racism
in 2015. We should be long past incidents like this hurtful video
made by these young men of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. It’s imperative
that people truly understand the pain and sorrow such hurtful words
and actions can carry with them. It’s sad that this video
comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’
in Selma, Alabama.”
Representative Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma, believes the offensive
video and subsequent events can serve as a catalyst for change within
the student community.
“It’s my hope this will spark real and meaningful change
on campus,” said Shelton. “There are numerous groups
on the OU campus that are constantly working to diversify faculty
and staff, and when we don’t have an environment that embraces
diversity, that effort can easily be overlooked. I commend President
Boren for his swift actions, but simply closing the SAE house and
expelling the offenders doesn’t address the root of the problem.
Ensuring tolerance and diversity throughout the campus requires
cooperation and commitment from all members of the university community.”
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