Racist SAE Chant Was Taught In Private At Louisiana Tech, Former Pledge Says

Another former Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge at Louisiana Tech told BuzzFeed News that he heard the "underground" chant a dozen times in a year. Update: The national fraternity and the university are investigating the allegations of racism within the chapter.

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon headquarters said they were actively investigating the allegations of racism and details about the culture of the fraternity's chapter at Louisiana Tech.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, the national fraternity's spokesperson, Brandon Weghorst, said, "The Sigma Alpha Epsilon headquarters is actively investigating the allegations of racism, which includes looking into details about the culture of the chapter, at Louisiana Tech University. Chapter members have been fully cooperative and forthcoming, and we are working to solidify our findings. Once those findings are available, we will make them public."

He also said that the fraternity acknowledged "the allegations from individuals who report that other members and chapters know about the chant beyond the University of Oklahoma."

"As we work through the investigative process, we are committed to substantiating the claims and to determining which chapters may have a deeper cultural issue that needs to be addressed immediately so that we can eradicate this type of behavior," the statement said.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Louisiana Tech said that upon learning of the new allegations, university officials met with the current leadership of the SAE chapter to discuss the standards of behavior among active members.

The statement said:

“As was the case with the previous alleged incident, Louisiana Tech University is unaware and does not have any report or documentation of this incident having taken place back in 2010. It should be clear that our university has zero tolerance for these types of destructive and insensitive actions. Louisiana Tech University meets frequently with the leadership of all its student organizations, including fraternities and sororities, to ensure they understand the behavioral standards and personal conduct expectations of the institution.

Immediately upon learning of the alleged 2010 incidents in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Louisiana Tech, university administrators and advisors met with the current leadership of the SAE chapter to ensure this type of behavior is not taking place among the active SAE members at Louisiana Tech and to clearly reiterate the behavioral standards and personal conduct expectations that the university demands of all its student organizations and members, as representatives of Louisiana Tech University. Any report made by a student, faculty, or staff member of behavior that could be considered racially-insensitive or threatening is taken very seriously and is thoroughly investigated.”

Another former Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge at Louisiana Tech University told BuzzFeed News that he witnessed a racist chant at the university at least a dozen times from 2010 to 2011.

BuzzFeed News recently reported that a former pledge, Dylan Merriman, heard the chant — which got two Sigma Alpha Epsilon members expelled from the University of Oklahoma (OU) this week and led to the chapter's shuttering — at Louisiana Tech in 2010.

The second former pledge, who did not wish to be identified because he thought doing so would hurt his career, told BuzzFeed News that while the chant wasn't an official SAE song, "it exists in the fraternity."

"The chant was never taught to us during our official pledge education," he said. "It was taught in private."

Parker Rice, one of the expelled OU students, had said that "the song was taught to us."

SAE, however, has said in statements that "the national fraternity does not teach such a racist, hateful chant, and this chant is not part of any education or training. Our investigation has found very likely that the [University of Oklahoma] men learned the song from fellow chapter members, which reiterates why Sigma Alpha Epsilon did not hesitate to close the chapter completely because of the culture that may have been fostered in the group."

The former pledge at Lousiana Tech who heard the song more than a dozen times — he left the fraternity in 2011 — said it was an "underground chant" that was prevalent among other SAE chapters. "La. Tech didn't make up the chant. It's been going on for quite a while," he said.

He said he heard some of the SAE active members chant the song at parties and after football games.

After BuzzFeed News reported that the song was chanted at a 2010 SAE rush party at Louisiana Tech, the university issued a statement saying it was unaware of the incident and did not have any report of it taking place in 2010.

"This type of reprehensible and destructive behavior is not tolerated from anyone attending or associated with our institution," the statement said.

When contacted on Thursday, the university reserved comment on the new allegations and stood by its previous statement.

The latest pledge to come forward said he was at the same rush party as Merriman, when a drunk active member chanted the song at the rush party.

He said the drunk member began singing the same chant that the University of Oklahoma students sang on the bus and that a few other members also joined in the singing.

The drunk member then began pointing at the fraternity composites on the wall and listed all the years saying, "There was never a n-word in this chapter and there never will be," according to the former pledge.

Several people at the party were disgusted but "no one really stood up and did anything," he said.

When the fraternity president was made aware of the incident, "he was not happy with the situation." But there were no repercussions for those involved in the chanting, he said.

The former pledge said he also heard that chant being sung at a fall 2010 SAE party called "Hookers and Hoodlums," which some of the members called "the n-word and Hoes" party where the men dressed up as gangsters.

"During that party — one of the biggest parties of the fraternity — the chant was sung a few times during and after the party ended," he said.

The former pledge said that racist incidents were not isolated in the SAE chapter during his time at Lousiana Tech.

As part of the "pledge education" during fall, SAE actives lined up the pledges against a wall and sprayed them with water. One active told the pledges that he was spraying them down "because n****** can't swim," the former pledge said.

He also said that if someone was playing volleyball well on the court in front of the SAE house, some of the members would call the person the n-word.

The SAE said other chapters are also being investigated for the alleged use of the racist chant.

In its statement, the national fraternity said, "Several other incidents with chapters or members have been brought to the attention of the headquarters staff and leaders, and each of those instances will be investigated for further action. Some of the allegations refer to incidents, which Sigma Alpha Epsilon acknowledges, from more than 20 years ago. Although we cannot change the past, we can learn from the present and alter the future."

The president of the University of Texas at Austin told ABC News that the school is looking into "rumors that a chant similar to the one at OU has been traditional in the UT chapter of SAE."

From ABC News:

Brandon Weghorst, the fraternity's national spokesman, explained that the investigation at UT-Austin was prompted by a tweet from someone who said they attended "a university in Texas" from 2000 to 2004 and they sang the same chant at the time. The twitter user, who has now removed the tweet, did not specify which university he attended.

The Twitter user in question, who asked he only be identified by his Twitter handle, MikeEvans25, said that the people who initiated the racist chant were no longer at the school. In a statement to BuzzFeed News on Thursday, he said, "For me to make a statement about my experiences from over a decade ago may possibly place the chapter in jeopardy. The individuals who initiated the chant then are no longer at the school. If the current members of the chapter have since corrected it themselves, then I would be disturbing the lives of dozens of men who are living up to the meaning of 'The True Gentleman.'"

The UT-Austin SAE chapter president denied that the chant was ever performed there. In a statement to ABC News, Luke Cone said, "First and foremost, I would like to clarify that we do not perform this chant or anything remotely close to it for that matter, nor had I, or any active member in our entire chapter, heard of the chant preceding the release of the video containing racial slurs."

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