Headquarters Issues New Details on Legal Representation

MEDIA ALERT: New information is available in the update as of as of 9:30 am CT on Friday, March 13, 2015. The newest details are in the lead paragraph only.

EVANSTON, IL– The Sigma Alpha Epsilon national headquarters, or national fraternity, has not retained legal representation, nor do we intend to pursue any action against the University of Oklahoma. Based on reports that have been brought to our attention, the local alumni advisory group for the former chapter may have retained legal representation, but we cannot validate those reports nor are we involved in that matter. There has been no communication from the alumni advisory group to the national headquarters since the chapter closing. We support and respect the university administrators’ decision to revoke recognition of the group.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s leadership continues to proceed with bringing all suspended members of the University of Oklahoma chapter forth before a commission to expel them from the national organization, which will revoke their membership permanently. At the same time, the headquarters has learned of the expulsion of two chapter members from the university, which we support. Although university officials have not communicated directly with headquarters staff or leadership, we believe that these men must be held responsible for their actions.

In separate statements, the two men who have been expelled from the university have mentioned that the song was “taught to us.” However, as has been maintained in previous statements, the national fraternity does not teach such a racist, hateful chant, and this chant is not part of any education or training. Our investigation has found very likely that the men learned the song from fellow chapter members, which reiterates why Sigma Alpha Epsilon did not hesitate to close the chapter completely because of the culture that may have been fostered in the group.

The headquarters also learned of a video released of the former house mother who made racist, mocking remarks to imitate a rap song. Her behavior, just as the chapter members’ behavior, is unacceptable, especially given her role as a peer and adviser. She was not an employee of the national organization but rather an employee of the local house corporation, a group of advisers who served voluntarily on a board to oversee the physical house property. Following the closure, the alumni board made sure to provide her with accommodations and assisted the chapter’s chef, an African-American male, with securing another employment opportunity.

The University of Oklahoma held the lease for the chapter house, serving as the landlords. Any directive to vacate the property, as well as any accommodations that may have been arranged for the vacated members, came from administrators. Alumni from the University of Oklahoma chapter are saddened and heartbroken not only about the incident but about the personal significance of the chapter house as it relates to their memories of their college experience.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s leadership has engaged with members of the African-American community and others who have reached out to the organization to build a partnership that will address the need for additional training, awareness and resources on cultural and diversity issues. The fraternity is dedicated to making sure that its members are model citizens and leaders as part of their membership experience but also to understanding how SAE can improve its relationship with men and women of all ethnicities, heritages and nationalities.

We teach our members to serve as role models in their communities and to live up to our creed, “The True Gentleman.” When members fail to do so, we will not hesitate to take corrective actions or to impose sanctions. Any behavior that is not aligned with the conduct we expect is unacceptable. Equally unacceptable is bystander behavior of members who fail to intervene when they witness conduct that deviates from our beliefs.

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. Some of the allegations refer to incidents, which Sigma Alpha Epsilon acknowledges, from more than 20 years ago. Although we cannot change the past, we can learn from the present and alter the future.

With regard to alumni who serve on the chapter’s house corporation board and who served as advisers, these gentlemen are appalled by the video and the song that was sung in it. They do not condone offensive and hateful behavior and will hold accountable the men who participated in the incident.

 

 

 
 

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