The University of Wisconsin-Madison has suspended its student chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon after a member reported multiple instances of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay behavior, including one in which he said he was choked and called a racial slur.
The fraternity, one of the biggest in the country with about 15,000 members and 200,000 alumni, drew national attention last year after a video of University of Oklahoma chapter members shouting a racist chant on a bus went viral. That was followed by other reports of racism at chapters elsewhere in the country, and a national initiative by the fraternity’s leaders to combat the problem.
The university’s chancellor, Rebecca Blank, wrote a letter to SAE Executive Director Blaine Ayers decrying the fraternity’s failure to stop bigoted behavior. It read, in part:
“I am deeply disappointed in the chapter’s failure to address persistent reports of discriminatory behavior, as well as the national body’s inability to address discrimination within its chapters.
… I understand that your organization attempted to address these issues across all chapters in the wake of the Oklahoma incident, but clearly incidents such as these persist within SAE. It suggests that your efforts to address an intolerant and discriminatory culture have not been effective. The conduct in this situation must not be repeated.”
Sigma Alpha Epsilon has apologised for the actions of the former members, saying, “They do not represent our mission and values.”
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