SAE activities suspended following racially offensive action involving pledges
SEE THE UPDATED VERSION OF THIS STORY HERE.
Washington University and the organization’s national headquarters have suspended all Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity activities following an alleged racially offensive activity involving a large number of pledges Tuesday night.
A group of students involved in the pledge process for SAE fraternity reportedly used inflammatory language toward a group of black students eating dinner in Bear’s Den on Tuesday.
Three students seated at the table said that they and a group of black students were having a meal when the pledges in question took a photo of them. When confronted about the photo, the pledges said that they were photographing something behind the table.
A few minutes later, the pledges began rapping and in the process used the N-word.
In a statement to Student Life, the national headquarters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon wrote that it issued a cease-and-desist order to the University’s chapter, meaning that chapter activity has been suspended while an investigation is carried out.
“The reported and alleged actions of the members are not consistent with Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s values, and the national organization offers our apologies to both the campus and local communities. The headquarters staff is working closely with university officials on their investigation to determine more details. Sigma Alpha Epsilon expects its chapters to foster the development of gentlemen, scholars and leader,” the statement said.
Sophomore Fade Oluokun said he was at the Bear’s Den table when the incident occurred.
“I just thought it was weird that they took a picture, first of all. We asked them what they were taking a picture of and they said, ‘There was something behind you.’ I said, ‘Look, I don’t appreciate just without permission someone taking a photograph of me’ for whatever purposes they were doing it. Then they started doing the rap song, and they said the N-word,” he said.
According to an account from Kayla Webb, who said she was at the table, the pledge who used the N-word was reciting the lyrics to “B—— Ain’t S—” by Dr. Dre in slam poetry style.
Webb also wrote in her account that the pledge returned to the table later and apologized for his actions.
Student Life is reaching out to Lucy Morlan, coordinator of Student Involvement and Leadership for Greek Life; Lamley Lawson, president of the African Students Association; the Association of Black Students; David Wallace, coordinator of Greek Housing programs; and more student witnesses and participants.
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With reporting by Sahil Patel, Sadie Smeck and Michael Tabb.
UPDATED: 7:30 p.m.: Added information from statement from Kayla Webb.
UPDATED: 4:05 p.m.: Added statement from SAE national headquarters.
UPDATED: 2:42 p.m.: Headline and lede amended to clarify that activity involving pledges was not necessarily a pledge activity.
UPDATED: 2:16 p.m.: Sharon Stahl announced SAE activities have been suspended.
Initial post: 1:45 p.m.