The Executive Director of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity announced a four-part initiative during a news conference in Chicago, in response to a viral video showing members of the fraternity's OU chapter chanting racial slurs.
Blaine Ayers, Executive Director of the national SAE chapter, held a news conference Wednesday morning to address the video. Ayers said the recent actions of SAE's Kappa chapter at the University of Oklahoma do not reflect the entire fraternity.
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“The chant in the video is ugly. It's demoralizing,” said Ayers. “We have zero tolerance for that sort of behavior.”
Ayers said as a national organization, they must answer to the actions of those who were welcomed into their membership. Ayers apologized on behalf of the SAE fraternity for the pain the situation has caused.
“The words were offensive and harmful. Now we must begin the task of seeking forgiveness, and taking steps to ensure that this never happens again,” Ayers said.
Ayers announced a four-part initiative to address what he called isolated cases of racial discrimination and insensitivity, and to make sure the fraternity is welcoming of all who reflect its true values.
1. The fraternity is committed to hire a Director of Diversity and Inclusion. This is the first such executive level position at any major fraternity or sorority. Ayers said he believes that the fraternity would benefit from having an expert to guide them on how to engage in these issues.
“Although we find the song disgusting, we also recognize that this is a moment to better engage in an important dialogue around issues of race and other diversity topics,” Ayers said.
2. The fraternity is creating a mandatory diversity and education program that will enhance existing program in place for all SAE members and staff.
3. The fraternity has appointed a national advisory committee on diversity and inclusion. This committee will include SAE undergraduates, alumni, and outside subject matter experts.
“The committee will provide oversight and guidance to the actions being announced today, as well as other activities in the areas of diversity and inclusion,” Ayers said.
4. The fraternity has created a new confidential hotline that SAE members and other concerned parties are encouraged to call to report any inappropriate, offensive, or illegal behaviors to the organization.
Ayers said last week the organization started a comprehensive investigation of all chapters to determine if any others have engaged in behaviors similar to what were displayed in the video.
SAE spokesperson Brandon Weghorst said there are currently two open investigations. No further details can be released at this time.