Local SAE alum responds to racist video at Oklahoma

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Outrage is growing locally after members of a national fraternity were caught on cell phone video taking part in a racist chant.

In the video, University of Oklahoma frat members indicate black students would never be admitted to the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

The chant also makes reference to lynching.

The University of Oklahoma has closed that chapter and its members have until midnight Tuesday to move out of the frat house.

The fraternity's national office is handling comments about the incident, but Michelle Guobadia, Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life says the video has sparked dialogue on the issue of racism among UNCC students.

There are currently 75 members belonging to UNCC's SAE chapter, including several African Americans.

"They too are not happy over the actions of the fraternity in Oklahoma," she said. "It's a great opportunity for learning, teaching, sharing, and engaging, and we are proud our students wanted to talk about this, and just talking about it is how our culture changes."

Justin Gaither, 28, is a 2008 graduate and was a member of the SAE chapter at the University of Miami.

"I was sick when I saw the video. It was just disgraceful."

Gaither, who is African American, says he was disappointed to see his fraternity's reputation tarnished. He says his chapter was made up of members from a diverse background.

"It's unfortunate because it paints everyone in a bad wrap and that is really not SAE'a case," he said.

"I felt like the chant was kind of reinforcing social norms that have been able to fester within this organization. So it was really upsetting to see that."

The national fraternity has since disbanded the OU SAE Chapter and the university has severed its ties with the group.

The university president vowed to lead by example on how to address this behavior, and said the school will not tolerate racism and bigotry.

"Luckily, we haven't had any incidents that have risen to that level," said Guobadia.

"When something like this happens, it is always unfortunate. What is encouraging is we've been having this conversation in our office, with our students and organizations," she added.

She says this type of behavior is addressed in UNCC's Student Code of Conduct. Hate speech, or racially charged threats are subject to disciplinary action.

"I think the more we cover it, the more we bring it to light, and hopefully we will see less of it," said Gaither.


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