I’m not talking about football.
The University of Oklahoma President David Boren released this statement less than a day after a video showing Sigma Alpha Epsilon (ΣΑΕ) brothers signing a blatantly racist song:
To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you. You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves “Sooners.” Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots. Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity. Real Sooners treat all people with respect. Real Sooners love each other and take care of each other like family members.
Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between this University and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed. I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow. Those needing to make special arrangements for possessions shall contact the Dean of Students.
All of us will redouble our efforts to create the strongest sense of family and community. We vow that we will be an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue. There must be zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation.
Unequivocal, and a wonderful highlighting of the fact that free speech does not mean consequence-free speech.
Stark contrast, as well, to a tweet from The University of Texas when a student inquired about an equally offensive racist incident perpetrated by the fraternity brothers of Phi Gamma Delta (ΦΓΔ). An incident which, by the way, had happened a full two weeks prior to the tweet:
Oklahoma could have made the same statement, saying the incident took place at a private event (and, unless the bus was driving through the campus, likely off-campus as well), but they did not. They took decisive action which showed exactly what values are truly part of the university’s core.
Almost yearly, white students at The University of Texas stage parties with racist themes. They make big news, students are moderately contrite, and then, it happens again. Perhaps The University of Texas could try it Oklahoma’s way next time.