SAE says UT chapter does not perform racist chant

FILE - UT Tower (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - UT Tower (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the fallout revolving the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at OU continues, the president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Texas at Austin is making it known that the local chapter is not involved in anything similar to OU’s chapter.

On Wednesday, the UT SAE President Luke Cone issued a statement stating “This portrayal of SAE is is absolutely appalling to me and I strongly believe that it is not an accurate representation of Sigma Alpha Epsilon nationally, and more specifically our chapter.” He goes on to say that their fraternity has a diverse population. “In fact, we happen to have a fairly diverse group of active members that come from many different nationalities and faiths, including Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Christian, Jewish brothers and Muslims.”

The Dean of Students, Sonica Reagins-Lilly,  reinforced SAE’s response with a statement of their own.

After recent events involving the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity chapter at the University of Oklahoma, our office was made aware of online allegations of similar behavior at our local chapter of SAE. We connected with local chapter leadership yesterday, who confirmed they do not perform the chant or anything similar. They also confirmed never having heard the chant before and stated such behavior had no place in their organization. Our office is also reaching out to former and current students involved with SAE for a more complete review.

Answering questions about past behavior may take time, but we wanted to let the community know right now that our local chapter of SAE reports no awareness of the chant and expresses strong disapproval of it.

On Tuesday, UT President Bill Powers said the incident at OU also renewed questions about UT’s handling of an incident involving members at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. The ‘FIJI’ house hosted an off-campus ‘border-themed’ party Feb. 7 where some guests were dressed in sombreros, ponchos and mariachi outfits.

“Both of these incidents were hurtful and offended many,” Powers said in a statement. “I deplore this behavior, which is contrary to the core values of The University of Texas at Austin.”

The University received several complaints about the party, but the school ultimately decided the fraternity did not violate any school rules and no punishments were handed down.

“It definitely should have had more punishment then what it was,” said UT student Kevin Oram. “It was swept under the rug by the university which I don’t necessarily think is a good thing.”

The dean of students has worked with FIJI members since the party, which Powers called a positive start. But he said much work remains. “The FIJIs have apologized, have been fully engaged with the dean of students’ efforts, and have reached out to Latino groups,” he added.

Powers also addressed the existence of a photo that allegedly listed pledge rules for FIJI members. He said the document appeared in 2007 and “was largely believed to be a hoax even then.”

The local chapter of SAE said they did their own investigation into the 2007 note and determined the person who posted it was never a SAE at UT-Austin.

 

 

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