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SAE Fraternity's Investigation Finds Five Of Its Chapters Knew Racist Chant

The national fraternity released findings from its investigation nearly a year after its members at the University of Oklahoma were caught singing a racist chant about lynching.

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The national fraternity of Sigma Alpha Epsilon said that five of its chapters knew the racist chant about lynching that its members at the University of Oklahoma (OU) were caught singing in March 2015.

The OU chapter was suspended by the national organization and shut down by the university which also expelled two leaders of the chant, Parker Rice and Levi Pettit, after a video showed students on a bus clapping and chanting, "there will never be a n***** SAE / You can hang them from a tree / But they’ll never sign with me.'

Following the OU incident, BuzzFeed News reported that the chant was "taught in private" to SAE members at Louisiana Tech. An OU probe found that members learned the racist chant at a national leadership cruise in 2010. A BuzzFeed News review found that racially-charged incidents were part of the fraternity's 159-year-old story.

The Illinois-based national fraternity, on Feb. 10, released findings from its year-long internal investigation into the Oklahoma incident. The organization said that five chapters —which it did not identify — acknowledged hearing the chant in the past five years. SAE said it polled every collegiate member, none of whom said they heard the chant more recently than 2012, except for the OU incident. The fraternity — which has 235 groups in the U.S. and Canada with more than 13,500 collegiate members — said that it could not confirm that the chant originated at SAE.

The statement said, "We provided additional education to those particular chapters on diversity and inclusion to make sure their culture has not deviated from our values and mission."

SAE, which hired a black woman, Ashlee Canty, as its Director of Diversity and Inclusion in 2015, said they would continue to work with her "to ensure proactive education and awareness for our members."

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

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