Following the publication of a video allegedly showing members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity chanting racist slogans, the school’s president said there is zero tolerance for students who use racially charged language.
The fraternity’s house closed on Sunday, and members must vacate the building by midnight on Tuesday, President David Boren said on Monday during a press conference. “We don’t have any room for racists and bigots at this university,” he said.
“I’d be glad if they left,” he added. “We don’t provide student services for bigots.”
The university is investigating the video, which was posted to YouTube on Sunday. It allegedly depicts multiple people using racist language to suggest that black students would never be admitted to the fraternity. The individuals appear to be on a bus singing, “There will never be a n***** in SAE.” They also reference lynching, according to NBC News.
“As they pack their bags, I hope they think long and hard about what they’ve done. I hope they think long and hard about how words can injure and hurt other people. This is not our way. These are not our values,” Boren said, noting that not every member of the fraternity is believed to have been involved in the filming of the video.
The university also is investigating individuals who might have acted as perpetrators, Boren said.
Boren first spoke out about the video in a statement he posted to his Twitter account on Sunday. He continues to promise the students involved will be expelled from the university, and not allowed to return during his presidency.
Boren couldn’t confirm the number of students responsible for the footage, but he said it was a “bus load” of individuals who chanted the racist remarks.
After seeing the footage, the fraternity’s national president, Brad Cohen, called an immediate board meeting and took action to close down the Oklahoma chapter late Sunday night. He tweeted to other members of the fraternity, urging them to treat everyone with respect and dignity.
SAE also issued a statement, seemingly acknowledging the incident.
“We apologize for the unacceptable and racist behavior of the individuals in the video, and we are disgusted that any member would act in such a way. Furthermore, we are embarrassed by this video and offer our empathy not only to anyone outside the organization who is offended but also to our brothers who come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities,” leadership wrote.
Andrew Clark, reporter for the independent student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily, told msnbc’s Jose Diaz-Balart on Monday that the video allegedly was filmed on Saturday evening on the fraternity’s “date party bus.” The footage, he added, “sparked, to say the least, some pretty big outrage here.”
“People are just outraged. Right now there is a peaceful protest going on,” he said on Monday morning. People were inside the Student Union posting paper notes to a glass door that express how they feel, he said. The gathering was organized by Unheard, an African-American activist group at the university.
Previously on Monday morning, Boren addressed the protest: “I have a message to those who have misused their free speech in this way. My message to them is: You are disgraceful.”
Waka Flocka Flame, an American rapper, cancelled his performance at the University of Oklahoma, previously scheduled for next month. “I must say I’m disgusted and disappointed in the actions of the SAE fraternity,” he wrote in a post on Instagram. “Racism is something I will not tolerate.”
Clarke Stroud, university vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, said people are “deeply hurt and outraged all at the same time.”
“There’s just no room in our community for it,” he added.
The actions in the video allegedly occurred on the same day as other Americans, including President Barack Obama, gathered in Selma, Alabama, to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march for equal voting rights. At the event on Saturday, Obama urged citizens to fight for racial equality. He stood on the same bridge where marchers were brutally beaten and tear-gassed by police on March 7, 1965.
As a precaution, officers were dispatched to the fraternity house on campus Sunday night. They had a visible presence outside of the building for about 45 minutes, according to NBC. After they left, graffiti was spray-painted on the building. The vandalism wasn’t anything particularly vulgar or offensive, Lt. Justin Wishon of the Norman Police Department confirmed to NBC.
Students at the university held a candlelight prayer vigil Sunday night.
“This is, for me, heartbreaking,” Boren said. “I think it’s heartbreaking for every member of this community.”