Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

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February 24, 2024

Opinion: Racism unacceptable in Greek Life

The University of Oklahoma is under scrutiny after a video surfaced online, putting some of their students to shame. The video, which features members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, shows a group of students proudly singing a racist chant.

The two students leading the chant have been expelled from the university, and the SAE chapter has been shut down.

The chant horrendously implies that the fraternity would rather see black students lynched than join.

Despite this chant, there are several minorities who are members of SAE. According to sae.net (the fraternity’s official website), “approximately 20 percent of our members self-identify as a minority or non-Caucasian.

The fact that all of the students on the bus seemed to know the tune is suspicious, and there have been several claims that the hymn is a tradition in the fraternity. As the Washington Post points out, “there was a unified chorus”.

Parker Rice and Levi Pettit were the students seen leading others in the chant, and Rice has issued an apology. Pettit’s parents have issued their own apology, on his behalf.

The University of Oklahoma’s black students make up only six percent of the student population, according to the Los Angeles Times. Furthermore, the LA Times claims the these students face “casual racism” on a regular basis. These claims are still being investigated.

Shortly after the video appeared, another scandalous video was brought to light. The new video shows elderly Beauton Gilbow, singing ’n****r’ several times in a row.

Gilbow, known to SAE members as ‘Mom B.’, was the fraternity house mother of SAE. Many are claiming she is a racist, but she is clearly singing along to a song featuring the word. While this was inappropriate behavior, it doesn’t necessarily make her a racist.

In an interview with CNN, two black SAE members are even defending ‘Mom B.’.

“That word needs to die,” says one of these students. ”With that being said, I don’t believe that Mom B. has hatred in her heart.” The entire interview can be seen on CNN’s website.

Racism is an unnerving and frightening thing to witness, and it is appalling that it remains an issue in modern times. Whether this was an isolated issue or not, expelling Rice and Pettit was a proper response from the university. This shows that the university will not tolerate something as hideous as racism.

In an official statement featured on the website, it is says “[they] were shocked and appalled at the despicable and unacceptable behavior shown in the video”.

“Discrimination and racial bias of any kind has no place in our organization and will not be tolerated.”

Shutting down the chapter was an appropriate way for Oklahoma University to handle the situation.

SAE is a national fraternity, and losing one chapter, especially one with this serious of a problem, will not hurt the fraternity as a whole.

The only thing hurting the fraternity is the fact that their members think it is acceptable behavior to use racist hymns in any manner.

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Opinion: Racism unacceptable in Greek Life