FGCU Greek community reacts to SAE banishment at University of Oklahoma
By Stephanie Smith
As we all saw on the news and all over social media, members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma said some unbelievably racist chants while on a bus ride to their formal. It saddens me to see a group of young men to not only act so immature and closed-minded, but to now cause a negative reflection on all of Greek life.
I don’t feel this should be a reflection at all on the Greek community. The mistakes of that group of men in no way shape or form mirrors any of the views or values shared by my sisters, and just because we are also in Greek life, it doesn’t mean we are all just alike.
I am a proud member of Zeta Tau Alpha, an organization that prides itself on seeing beauty in all people and always treating those within and throughout our circle with the upmost respect. So why should a fraternity from a school all the way in Oklahoma filled with men I have never met be able to dictate how anyone looks at me or any other Greek organization? The answer is, it shouldn’t.
ZTA, along with the other Greek organizations on FGCU’s campus, has provided me with friends and memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. Greek life has given me the opportunity to grow as an individual and as a team player. It’s what has made me the philanthropic, caring, and compassionate person I believe I am today, so it is extremely discouraging to me to know that people will use this instance as a way to judge Greek life.
In my opinion, these boys don’t demonstrate any of the values I have seen and learned in my time in Greek life. They were completely at fault in their actions, of course, there’s no denying that, but this isn’t because of the fraternity they are in. The SAEs didn’t become racists after they came to college and decided to pledge their fraternity. The sad truth is that they were probably raised that way. Greek life in no way changes who you are, and for me and many others it brought out the best parts of ourselves. Therefore, I feel it is absolutely unjust to be judged by the wrongdoings of a group of men I had the pleasure of never meeting.
By Nicholas Kutz
If you have been on social media in the past week you have seen a multitude of stories plastered all around concerning the recent incident with members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma.
If you haven’t, this short, yet cringe-worthy video shows members of SAE on a chartered bus, headed to a party, cheerfully pumping their fists and clapping while chanting “There will never be a n***** SAE/ you can hang them on a tree but they won’t sign with me/ there will never be a n***** SAE.”
Since the incident, their chapter has been shut down completely. Every single member of this chapter has been suspended, and all members living in the fraternity house were given a 24-hour notice to remove themselves and all personal belongings from their chapter house.
Everyone from the university president, who was quoted describing the students involved as “disgraceful” (in a pretty interesting George Bush-style bullhorn speech), to the OU football team canceling practice to join in protest of actions of these students, to rapper Waka Flocka Flame canceling an upcoming show at the university, have weighed in on the incident. There has been no shortage of outrage stemming from this incident, and it is 100 percent justified.
As a member of a Greek letter organization, I cannot begin to explain how absolutely disgusted I am by the actions of these students. It is so frustrating to hear about this incident because what these students did not realize was that their actions hurt a lot more people than they will ever realize. Their own house chef, an African American man, is even out of a job now because of their actions.
The stigma around fraternities has taken a turn for the worst in recent years, and incidents such as this are why.
You have to be extremely ignorant to get on a bus to go to a party celebrating the founding of your organization and start singing racist songs, but it takes a truly remarkable amount of stupidity to videotape the clearly incriminating incident. There are still misguided people with racist prejudices, but what is so troubling to me is that these are not some uneducated people living under a rock: These are college-educated young men.
I seriously urge readers to think about these incidents from a bigger perspective. Do not let the actions of a few members of a single chapter of a single fraternity at a single university change your views on Greeks as a whole. The actions of these cowards were not indicative of the values of their organization or any other Greek letter organization and should not be seen as the standard. I hate to see young men disrespect the Greek community as a whole with their ignorance. I truly hope that people understand that is not what the Greek community, nor SAE as an organization, stands for at all. I am happy to see that SAE’s national chapter, as well as the OU administration and community have come together is protest of these actions.
I advise you to attend Greek philanthropy events on campus (such as Cover Kappa Alpha for Muscular Dystrophy Association on March 17 on the Library Lawn), research the values of the organizations on our own campus, ask members of our Greek community why they joined their organization and what it has done for them, and you will see what the Greek community is really about.
By Brenna Tucker
As a member of the Greek community, I am mortified by the chant the brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s University of Oklahoma chapter created. The chant was recorded and posted for everyone to see. After watching the video go viral, I knew what was coming next, Greek shaming.
I have been an active member of Greek life for more than 3 years. I have never been happier in my entire life, but I have also never had to explain my values more. I joined my organization because of its founding values, philanthropy and the bond between our sisters and the whole Greek community. However, the actions of organizations similar to SAE’s Oklahoma Kappa chapter have added to the Greek shaming.
Greek shaming is no different than any other kind of group shaming. The community is constantly attacked for hazing, exclusivity, sexual assault, alcohol and drug issues, and now racism. The judgment of many should not be based on the actions of the few. Just because that singular chapter of fewer than 200 brothers created a racist chant does not mean that the millions of brothers and sisters in Greek life believe the same thing. I am appalled at how the major news sources are identifying everyone in Greek life as racists or sharing the same mindset.
Our country is constantly trying to eliminate stigmas, stereotypes and any form of shaming, but the instant someone from an easy target group slips up, they are shamed. Greek life is this week’s easy target. The media should not be focusing on the fact that they are Greek; they should be applauding how fast SAE’s nationals expelled the chapter. Most national organizations have a zero-tolerance policy and enforce it. This past week has been overwhelming for Greeks everywhere. We have joined together as brothers and sisters to show that even within our organizations we do not approve of the behavior demonstrated in that video.
As a woman who is in Greek, I am not ashamed to be Greek. I am not ashamed of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. I am ashamed of the brothers of the Oklahoma Kappa Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The former brothers were not living up to being “The True Gentleman,” and instead lived up to the stereotype and for that, I am ashamed of them. I would like to leave you with this: “The Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, age or physical or mental disability, religion, marital status, military status, order of protection status and unfavorable military discharge.” This is their National Policy, broken by few. Now everyone in the Greek community faces the aftermath of the mistakes made by those men. The men have been disaffiliated from the Greek community, and now so should their actions.