Founding member: OU SAE was not started on tradition of racism
The Oklahoma Kappa chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon was chartered in 1995 and closed Monday morning after video surfaced Sunday of members reciting a racist chant.The video went viral quickly and made national headlines in less than 12 hours after it was posted.Since chants are traditions among fraternities, many speculated SAE is based on racist traditions. They said the chant must be something taught to pledges for years. But a founding member of the OU's chapter talked with FOX 25, and said that's just not true."It is not representative of the fraternity and what we believe in and what we thrive to convey to ourselves into the public," Jay Vinekar said.Vinekar was the first inductee at Oklahoma. He said he was in SAE at Boston University, and was selected to help reopen OU's chapter when he transferred schools in 1993. After passing all regulations, SAE was reinstated and chartered again in 1995."I am an Indian-American. We had other South Asians. We had Asians. We had Hispanics. We had African-Americans, Native Americans. We accepted everyone into the house who believed in what we were trying to build," he said.Vinekar said this chapter tried to break the mold of the stereotypes associated with Greek organizations, part of that was diversity."And never when I was at the house was racism or bigotry accepted or even present in the house because we were such a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life, all eternities, all religions, all socioeconomic backgrounds," Vinekar said.Vinekar worked with this fraternity up until 2002. He says there was a culture of diversity up until that time. He understands there was a shift in attitude just in the past few years and said he's disappointed no one stepped in to stop it. Still, FOX 25 talked with students at OU who said they have felt racism on campus and in the Greek system. They hoped this scandal would spark a new movement to eradicate that problem.
The SAE house at OU has faced trouble in the past. The fraternity was suspended from campus in 1989 following a hazing incident in which a pledge was forced to drink alcohol then was tied to a ceiling beam by his arms. The fraternity was allowed to reorganize in 1995 with an entirely new group of members. Last year the national headquarters of the fraternity announced a ban on pledging following a string of hazing-related deaths nationwide.Read a full statement from Vinekar here.