The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is back in the news again after one of its members reported the organization for using racist and bigoted slurs.
According to WKOW, the University of Wisconsin-Madison suspended the SAE chapter from its flagship campus Tuesday for repeatedly using racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs and blackballing an African-American student who tried to stop it.
The news station also reports that the university’s student-led Committee on Student Organizations has barred the fraternity from all Greek activities through Nov. 1 and will not allow it to recruit members in the fall. SAE has the right to appeal the school’s decision.
Per ABC News, the fraternity was already on probation for an unrelated incident involving underage drinking. Now, all members will be required to complete diversity and mental health training before the chapter is considered for reinstatement.
According to The Huffington Post, the suspension was prompted by an unidentified member who reported that he had been subjected to fellow SAE members using the offensive slurs on several occasions since 2014. Per the university, this same student also reported being called a racial slur by another frat member and choked for five seconds during a Halloween party in 2014. School officials say that member was disciplined for his behavior, but didn’t say how.
The unidentified student, who is Black, alleges the racially charged incidents began in Fall 2014 and continued through February of this year, university documents state.
“These type of actions are in direct contradiction to the values SAE purports to uphold, as well as our institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion here at UW-Madison,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank wrote in a letter addressed to the SAE national office in Evanston, Illinois.
Blank also said she intends to meet with the SAE national president and local chapter president before the fraternity is reinstated at the flagship campus, WKOW reports.
The SAE fraternity has grappled with racial bias and insensitivity among it members in the past. A video surfaced last year of University of Oklahoma chapter members loudly singing a racist chant, which apparently had been taught during a national leadership conference four years prior, CNN.com reports.
“There will never be a n*gga in SAE,” the song goes.
The organization initially denied that the chant was widespread, but quickly changed its tune after the incident was investigated by the university.
“Over time the chant was formalized in the local SAE chapter and was taught to pledges as part of the formal and informal leadership process,” said University of Oklahoma president David Boren. “It is clear that during the four years since the chant was brought to the university campus, its existence was known by recent members and … it became part of the institutionalized culture of the chapter.”
The University of Oklahoma SAE chapter was ultimately disbanded. Yale’s chapter of SAE also found itself in hot water when it barred Black female students from attending a “white girls only party,” according to Atlanta Black Star.
The fraternity’s Illinois-based national office has since launched a number of initiatives to combat the organization’s issue of racism also. For example, it hired a director of diversity and inclusion and reviewed all 237 of its chapters for racially insensitive conduct, ABC News reports.
In a statement, SAE spokesman Brandon Weghorst confirmed that the fraternity’s national leaders are investigating the incident at UW-Madison, according to the news site. He also apologized for the actions of the former members.