Sigma Alpha Epsilon is establishing a national initiative to combat racial discrimination and will review all of its chapters to determine if any chapters engage in racially offensive behaviors similar to that of the now-disbanded Oklahoma chapter, Blaine Ayers, SAE executive director, announced Wednesday.
Two Oklahoma students have been expelled and the SAE chapter at Oklahoma has been closed since a video surfaced of brothers singing a racist chant on a bus.
The plans include appointing a director of diversity and inclusion, creating a mandatory diversity and education program and establishing a national advisory committee on diversity and inclusion that will comprise SAE undergraduates, alumni and experts on certain subjects.
Peter Donohue, the vice president of SAE’s Virginia Tau chapter at Richmond, supports the initiatives SAE is taking, and believes other Greek organizations could follow.
“I think what SAE is doing a good thing,” Donahue said, “and I think a lot of other Greek organizations will follow suit even though they haven’t had the kind of publicity around these issues. I think in general the old system of Greek organizations needs to adapt and evolve as colleges adapts and evolve, and as the world does.”
Tucker White, president of SAE’s Virginia Tau chapter, said he had not received a call from nationals yet, but will comply with their review process when the time comes.
“They can come see us, come talk to us,” he said. “We have nothing to hide.”
As part of its response to the Oklahoma video, Virginia Tau unveiled a banner outside of its lodge Thursday morning. The sign serves as a means to get the Richmond chapter’s message out, Donohue said.
“We just wanted a reminder and an association in front of those letters that that’s not what SAE at Richmond is,” Donohue said.
SAE’s decision to review all of its chapters comes after speculation that the behavior seen in the video was not an isolated instance. Investigations into racism at SAE chapters in Texas and Louisiana have been launched, according to the Associated Press.
White and Donohue, however, said they had never seen or heard any behavior exhibited in the video at their chapter or at any of the chapters they have visited.
“People came out in the news and have been like ‘this is an SAE thing’ and it’s definitely not,” Donohue said. “It’s not reflected in our chapter nor at any other chapters that any of us have visited.
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“I think it’s not something that can be overlooked just cause it could be in a small parcel of the organization, but without a doubt it’s not something that we have at our chapter,” Donohue said.
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