Racist SAE Fraternity Members Could Face Death Penalty
University President Seeking Authority To Execute Students Appearing In Racist Fraternity Video
Published March 10, 2015
The University of Oklahoma has severed ties with Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity following the leaking of a video in which fraternity members sing a racist chant. The closing of their fraternity might be the least of the former members’ woes. School President David Boren said Monday that he will order the expulsion of all SAE members that were on the bus and, more controversially, will seek authority from the governor of Oklahoma to execute all those students that participated in the chant.
The Saturday night video found its way to the school newspaper which brought the clip to the attention of the authorities. In the video students on the bus boisterously chant, “There will never be a nigge- [in] SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me.”
Boren, who joined hundreds of students at the Norman campus in a predawn protest, called the students participating in the video “not worthy of life in our beautiful diverse world.” Boren also tweeted after the protest, “To those who have abused speech in such a unforgivable way, I have a message for you. You will pay the ultimate price.”
Boren pledged during a predawn vigil that the school will become “an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue in a way that shows no limits – the Sooner Way.”
The former fraternity members have until midnight Tuesday to get their things out of the house, Boren said in a Monday afternoon news conference. Then they be arraigned and taken to the Cleveland County Jail roughly 20 minutes drive from the university. Legal experts believe that the initial charges will be public indecency, but more serious charges likely will be raised against those participating in the chant.
“The fraternity house will be closed, and as far as I’m concerned, razed to the ground,” said President Boren. In remarks to CNN's Ron Lemon, Boran said that he was deeply disturbed by what appears in the video. In fact, Boren is so disheartened by the racist display that he is weighing “shutting down the whole university” after the current semester.
At a news conference, President Boren said the school was exploring the option of capital punishment, especially against those “who have taken a lead” in the chanting. While expulsion is a clear option, capital punishment must be “carefully directed” if it’s to pass constitutional muster, said Santa Marina College of Law professor Alan Derbowitz. “Hatred is a very serious thing, but we are dealing with young people whose minds are more easily corrupted,” he added. Derbowitz also noted that capital punishment traditionally has been reserved to the judicial system.
Boren emphasized that in “there is no room for racists and bigots” at Oklahoma University. Indeed, students at the campus seem to be showing solidarity against racism. One distraught student lit himself on fire in front of the SAE house. He survived, but suffered third-degree burns and is being hospitalized. Some are calling him a hero, and he is listed in stable condition. In a show of support for the LGBA community -- frequently a target of fraternity hatred -- one of the football team's redshirt freshmen offered his body to the LGBA Society’s president on the steps of the fraternity house. “This is a small price,” he reportedly told onlookers. He asked that his name not be used.