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Frats under fire: Oklahoma fraternity closed over racist chant caught on video


Colleges nationwide are reconsidering the role of frats on their campuses in view of hazing, pledge deaths and injuries, sexual assaults, alcohol infractions and other problems.

Some schools have banned fraternities on campuses, including Williams College, Bowdoin College, Middlebury College, and Amherst College.

In a piece a few months ago , Inside Higher Ed reported: "Wesleyan University announced that its fraternities would have to go coeducational amid a push from students and faculty members who say that fraternities encourage sexism and mistreatment of women. Clemson University suspended all fraternity activity following a member's fatal plunge from a bridge. The Texas Tech University chapter of Phi Delta Theta was suspended after displaying a banner that read 'No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal.'"

Last year, a Bloomberg News investigation chronicled more than 60 deaths linked to fraternities and countless more injuries and assaults since 2005. (Here is a great investigative piece in the Atlantic on injuries in frat houses, drawing on insurance and risk management data.)

This chant by an Oklahoma fraternity caught on video and released this weekend will not help the cause of frats.

According to the Associated Press this morning:

The president of the University of Oklahoma chastised members of a fraternity on Monday who participated in a racist chant caught on video, calling them disgraceful and their behavior reprehensible.

President David Boren joined students at a pre-dawn rally on the Norman campus, just hours after the Sigma Alpha Epsilon said an investigation confirmed the contents of the online video and announced the local chapter would close. The video shows several people chanting a racial slur and indicating blacks would never be admitted to the fraternity. The chant also references lynching.

"You are disgraceful," Boren said, according to The Oklahoman newspaper. "Real Sooners are not bigots, real Sooners are not racist."

The national fraternity released a statement Sunday night saying it was "embarrassed" by the "unacceptable and racist" behavior.


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Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.