Sigma Alpha Epsilon is launching a four-point initiative to combat "isolated cases" of racial discrimination and insensitivity amongst its members, the fraternity announced on Wednesday.
The national fraternity said it would hire a "Director of Diversity and Inclusion" among other measures to address instances of racist behavior by its members in recent allegations, some of which are said to have occurred as far back in the 80s.
The fraternity said it would also issue a report on the findings of a comprehensive review all of its 237 chapters and colonies "to determine if any currently engage in racially offensive or derogatory behaviors like those captured on video and shared from SAE's former chapter at the University of Oklahoma earlier this month."
At a press conference in Chicago, the Executive Director of SAE, BlaineAyers, apologized for "the pain" that the O.U. video had caused and said that the situation called for "bold moves" to address "these isolated cases of racial discrimination and insensitivity."
Ayers said the fraternity would benefit from the hiring of a diversity director as an expert to guide its engagement with issues of race and diversity and to have "tough conversations" with every chapter and member.
The fraternity is also creating a mandatory diversity and education program for all its members and staff, which will include the launch of an online diversity certification training program next week.
SAE also plans to establish a confidential hotline for its members and others to "report any inappropriate, offensive, or illegal behaviors" in the fraternity.
"Any calls to this hotline will be taken seriously and investigated by SAE," Ayers said.
The fraternity will also appoint SAE undergraduates, alumni, and experts to oversee its diversity plan as part of a national advisory committee.
The O.U. video spawned a series of other allegations of racism within different chapters, including a former pledge at Louisiana Tech saying that the racist chant was privately taught to pledges and often used during parties.
Another former SAE member at George Mason spoke of racial discrimination in the bidding process, while another pledge alleged the existence of an all-white secret sub-group within the California State University, Northridge chapter.
"Not being aware of the song does not exclude us from ownership of the situation," Ayers said, and promised a "swift response" to any chapter that exhibited discriminatory behavior.
The national fraternity has also begun its internal judicial process of affording a fair review for its suspended members in the OU chapter. After this "trial commission" the board will vote on the commission's recommendations for penalties against the suspended members, including potential suspension or permanent expulsion from the fraternity.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
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