The front gates are chained at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on March 11, 2015 in Norman, Oklahoma. Video showing Sigma Alpha Epsilon members singing a racist chant while traveling on a tour bus went viral after being uploaded to the internet. SAE’s national chapter has since suspended the students involved and the University of Oklahoma President David Boren has terminated the fraternity’s affiliation with the school. (Photo by Brett Deering) / Getty
The board of directors of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma has retained an attorney after the university closed the fraternity chapter on its campus last week.
Lawyer Stephen Jones was hired by the alumni board of SAE at OU after the school disbanded and evicted the entire fraternity from campus, and was set to expel the two SAE members who were featured in a racist video taken on a party bus.
Jones,who represented infamous terrorist Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the Oklahoma City Federal building in 1995, said on Friday that he was not looking to sue the university, but “nothing is off the table.” Jones says that he is concerned with protecting the rights of due process for SAE members as well as being concerned for their safety, reports Tulsa World News.
There has been talk in recent days that the students and fraternity may have some legal recourse against OU because what the students said on the bus is protected by free speech, and there was no due process before the decisions against the fraternity and its members were made.
The two students who “starred” in the video, Parker Rice and Levi Pettit, withdrew from the OU on Tuesday, after they were captured rapturously singing a racist song to the tune of “If You’re Happy And You Know It.” The song repeatedly used the n-word, sung of lynching, and said that no black person would ever join the fraternity. Jones does not represent Rice or Pettit.
Jones says that he is mostly interested in the students’ safety, saying that in recent days there have been death threats, physical assaults or altercations against SAE members on the OU campus, and that many are afraid.
Jones said he and the SAE board would like to sit down with OU President David Boren, other members of school leadership, as well as, possibly, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Oklahoma City chapter of the NAACP, and that he would like to have this issue resolved “by the end of the semester.”
However, SAE national seems in part to agree with the actions of the University of Oklahoma. In response to the press conference, Sigma Alpha Epsilon released a statement on its website last night. It reads in part:
The national organization is not involved in retaining Mr. Jones and, as of now, we have no further information about his intentions. Our priority now remains squarely focused on making sure we continue to proactively address this issue in a way that reflects our zero-tolerance for any kind of discrimination and upholds the values of our Fraternity. We teach our members to serve as role models in their communities and to live up to our creed, “The True Gentleman.” As such, when members fail to do so – as they did at the University of Oklahoma – we do not hesitate to take corrective action, starting with closing the chapter and initiating a process to take action against any members who were involved. As we continue to review this matter – as Mr. Jones stated – we are committed to following the due diligence and protocols that we have set forth in our Fraternity Laws, as they are designed to enable us to make deliberate, thoughtful decisions that reflect our commitment to our standards and to our members [emphasis ours.]