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Michelle’s Monday Morning Column: What’s trending? > Sigma Alpha Epsilon [ SAE ], OU and Madness in March

OklahomaIn the midst of all the madness that goes along with ‘Selection Sunday’ another sort of madness has been trending this past week.   Sadly it is circumstance that resulted in the aftermath of a video that went viral, which showed members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon [SAE] fraternity who attended the University of Oklahoma, chanting racist chants on a bus. The video went viral. Two members of the fraternity were expelled. SAE is a national fraternity and it has issued an apology for what it deems to be unacceptable behavior. In a statement the fraternity released in response to the video it said, “This is absolutely not who we are.”

What’s baffling me though, is just how do the actions of a few students serve to symbolize the fraternity’s mission overall? At what point, are we allowing something that could be views of a few, to serve as significant evidence that would paint an entire fraternity in negative light? Of course, one bad apple is enough to spoil a whole bunch, but truly it seems unfair to me to punish all for the actions of a few.

Yet, was it the actions of a few or has this chant been part of the fraternity’s core for a long time? According to an article posted on March 10, 2015, written by Manny Fernandez and Richard Peres-Pena, “four members of the fraternity claimed on social media that the same chant was used at colleges in other states.” The fraternity’s national headquarters has claimed that the chant is not part of its tradition.

What seems apparent, at least if you are following what’s trending on Twitter, as respects to sports this issue is not going away soon. It’s got legal analysts talking about Constitutional issues, freedom of speech and how derogatory words are not grounds for expulsion.

Various publications including Sports Illustrated, as well as, several sports talk radio programs have been discussing this matter non-stop since it happened.  In addition Jean Delance, a top football star has elected to opt out of attending OU. Much has been written thus far, and will continue to be written about how the University of Oklahoma President David Boren has reacted to this incident. Many are claiming that Sigma Alpha Epsilon has racist roots, and that racism is part of the culture.  The fraternity vehemently has denied this.   OU’s investigations into the fraternity’s practices are ongoing.  Some have taken to Facebook and made statements that the university acted too swiftly, and harshly.  The university president addressed several questions posed by Tulsa World, on March 22, 2015 wherein he spoke about how he does not think that the university will suffer any long time residual recruitment issues.  He believes ultimately students will want to play for a school that does not tolerate these sort of ‘shenanigans.’

Although other issues in sports, including free agency and ‘Selection Sunday’ got a lot of attention this past weekend, I thought madness involving racism deserved the spotlight for this column. My reasons had much to do with the zero tolerance reaction by the university, in response to the abhorrent video that went viral. There is no place for racism. That being said, many have argued that racist chants in rap music occur without mention. The president of the university has reacted promptly, and in my opinion, appropriately by calling the behavior “disgraceful” however, whether he has exceeded authority and overstepped Constitutional rights remains to be seen.  Many groups have suggested that the punishment of the students is too harsh, and suggested that the students Constitutional rights have been violated.  It’s very likely that this matter will not be going away any time soon.

What is SAE doing about the recent video from the University of Okalahoma? For more you can visit

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Michelle has been a sports writer and analyst for many years. Now, as host of Neutral Court, sponsored by In The Zone, Michelle brings a new sports topic to the debate floor with each episode.
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