NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — University of Oklahoma freshmen will now be required to take a five-hour course dealing with diversity issues before completing their first year of college.
The course will start in the upcoming fall semester. Tulsa media outlets report it is part of a larger project to provide a more diverse faculty and student body at the school, which was rocked by a March scandal involving video of a racist chant by members of a fraternity.
Jabar Shumate, vice president of University Community, says the course will discuss histories, backgrounds and cultures among students and alumni. He was recently hired to focus on improving and sustaining efforts to diversify the campus.
The University of Oklahoma’s president expelled two students March 10 after he said they were identified as leaders of a racist chant captured on video during a fraternity event. University President David Boren said in a statement the two students were dismissed for creating a “hostile learning environment for others.” The OU student later publicly apologized.
The video posted online showed several people on a bus participating in a chant that included a racial slur, referenced lynching and indicated black students would never be admitted to OU’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Members of the fraternity apparently learned the chant during a national leadership cruise four years ago that was sponsored by the fraternity’s national administration, the university’s president said on March 27.
At the University of Texas, school leaders say they found no connection between the campus chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and chants sung at Oklahoma’s chapter. When OU’s chant surfaced, there were rumors that the same chant was part of the UT chapter’s traditions. The Dean of Students’ investigation revealed that was not the case, however.
Amid the fallout revolving the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at OU, the president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at UT made it known that the local chapter was not involved in anything similar to OU’s chapter. 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 went 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.”