Universities Report No Problems With W.Va. SAE Fraternity Chapters
Since news broke about fraternity members using a racist chant in Oklahoma, Sigma Alpha Epsilon has come under fire nationwide. University officials say they haven’t had any trouble with the fraternity’s chapters in West Virginia.
A video showing Oklahoma University's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members engaging a racist chant went viral last week. The chant includes references to lynching and says African-Americans will never be members of SAE. Oklahoma University severed ties with the local chapter of the fraternity and expelled two students shortly thereafter.
Following the incident, the national chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon began investigating reports that chapters in Louisiana and Texas used the same racist chant.
“There are no allegations that have been brought to our attention about this type of racist chant or any other sort of racial intolerance with the chapters in West Virginia, “ said SAE’s National Associate Executive Director of Communications Brandon Weghorst. Weghorst says the fraternity’s leadership is committed to making sure any new allegations are investigated.
W.Va. SAE Chapters
Ed Cole is a former brother and current adviser to West Virginia University’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter. He said that since 2007 when he was initiated, he has never seen or heard of discriminatory behavior at the fraternity’s WVU chapter.
“For me, since that time period, I mean, we have never discriminated against anybody racially or for their gender or sexuality by any means,” Cole said.
Officials at West Virginia University and Marshall say they have not heard about the chant being used or taught at their universities.
WVU's Dean of Students Corey Farris said when news of the video broke, he spoke with SAE’s leadership in Morgantown about the racist chant possibly being taught at chapters around the country.
“To my knowledge and my conversations and certainly with advisers of the local SAE chapter, it’s not national if they’re including WVU in the United States and I certainly consider them part of the United States. And so they were unaware of it if it’s a national thing,” Farris said.
Marshall University Dean of Students Steve Hensley said he’s aware of the issues SAE has had at campuses outside the state, but he had good things to say about the fraternity’s members at Marshall.
“Good guys, good students, never have a problem with them and I just can’t imagine that they would be involved in activities like that,” he said.
Farris said members of the WVU SAE chapter perform regular community service and are very involved in student government, but the chapter's advisor Ed Cole says members of other fraternities at the university have targeted SAE on social media because of the Oklahoma video. Cole said he's spoken with his members about not reacting negatively to the comments.
“So, we know who we are. We know that’s not us. We know we don’t do that chant, so don’t acknowledge it or don’t try to strike out at anybody by any means,” he said.
WVU Fraternity Incidents
WVU put a moratorium on all fraternity and sorority activities following several incidents at the university in November last year. Eighteen-year-old Kappa Sigma pledge Nolan Burch died after he was found unresponsive at the fraternity’s off-campus house. Later in November, 19 members of the Sigma Chi fraternity were cited by police for unruly behavior in Morgantown’s South Park neighborhood.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon wasn’t involved in either of the incidents. and Cole says SAE was one of the first Greek organizations to have its moratorium lifted. Cole said that’s because SAE followed the procedures WVU put in place following the incidents when some other fraternities didn’t.