'You Can Hang 'em From a Tree': University Suspends Frat After Video of Racist Chant Goes Viral

Members from the University of Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon were captured on video shouting a racist chant that has led to the fraternity being closed, USA Today reports.

In the video, which was first reported about on Sunday evening by university student newspaper Oklahoma Daily, members are heard singing, “There will be a nigger SAE. There will never be a nigger SAE. You can hang ‘em from a tree, it’ll never [inaudible] with me, there will never be a nigger SAE.”

Yesterday, fraternity’s national headquarters closed the chapter and suspended its members.

"We apologize for the unacceptable and racist behavior of the individuals in the video, and we are disgusted that any member would act in such a way," national fraternity leadership said in a statement. "Furthermore, we are embarrassed by this video and offer our empathy not only to anyone outside the organization who is offended but also to our brothers who come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities.”

University president David Boren said the school would also be conducting its own investigation into the video. “If OU students are involved, this behavior will not be tolerated and will be addressed very quickly,” Boren said, according to the New York Times. “This behavior is reprehensible and contrary to all of our values.”

A student group called the Unheard Movement uploaded the 9-second video last night. It has had more than 51,000 views in 14 hours.

“We aim to share light that we do not live in a post-racial America,” a message under the video read. “Even after 50 years after the events that occurred in Selma, Alabama we still have a reason to march. We as a people have indeed come a long way, but yet still have so far to go. Within this video there appears to be members of a national fraternity known as Sigma Alpha Epsilon.”

The fraternity has been in trouble before. In February, Yale banned Sigma Alpha Epsilon from conducting on-campus activities until 2016, according to the Times. In 2014, the University of Connecticut banned the fraternity for five years, due to hazing allegations.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.