Two students identified as having a leading role in a racist chant by members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma were expelled Tuesday in connection with the matter, the school’s president said.
The expulsions came two days after a video of SAE members repeating the racist chant on a bus surfaced and began circulating through social media.
“I have emphasized that there is zero tolerance for this kind of threatening racist behavior at the University of Oklahoma. I hope that the entire nation will join us in having zero tolerance of such racism when it raises its ugly head in other situations across our country," OU President David Boren said. “I am extremely proud of the reaction and response expressed by our entire university family — students, faculty, staff, and alumni — about this incident.
“We will continue our investigation of all the students engaged in the singing of this chant,” he added. “Once their identities have been confirmed, they will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.”
Boren’s action followed more than a day of protests that included members of the Oklahoma football and men’s basketball teams, who participated in gatherings Sunday night and Monday morning. Basketball coach Lon Kruger called the video “disgraceful, embarrassing and totally uncalled for.”
“I think that’s the feeling of everyone, not just the athletes, but everyone anywhere,” Kruger told the Norman (Okla.) Transcript. “You don’t want anyone subjected to that. You don’t want your children to see it. It’s not just an athletic thing; it’s across the board.”
Another video connected with SAE at Oklahoma was also creating controversy Tuesday. In it, the fraternity’s house mother, Beauton Gilbow, can be seen chanting a racial slur along to a song by rapper Trinidad James. The video was surfaced on the website of the university’s student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily.
Gilbow released a statement saying she is not a racist.
"I have friends of all race and do not tolerate any form of discrimination in my life," Gilbow said. "I was singing along to a Trinidad song but completely understand how the video must appear in the context of the events that occurred this week."
Also, following separate decisions by the university and SAE’s national headquarters to shutter the OU chapter of the fraternity, the Greek letters have been removed from the fraternity house’s exterior and the university planned to board up the windows later Tuesday.
The Norman (Okla.) Transcript contributed to this story.