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Fraternity tied to racist chant hires diversity director
By Sean Murphy, Associated Press
Published July 8, 2015
In this March 25, 2015 file photo, Oklahoma state Sen. Anastasia Pittman, left, D-Oklahoma City, stands with Levi Pettit, right, a former University of Oklahoma fraternity member caught on video leading a racist chant, during a news conference at Fairview Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Pettit apologized for the chant. Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the fraternity connected to the racist video, has announced the hiring of a diversity director who will be charged with helping the fraternity’s chapters across the nation become more inclusive. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

In this March 25, 2015 file photo, Oklahoma state Sen. Anastasia Pittman, left, D-Oklahoma City, stands with Levi Pettit, right, a former University of Oklahoma fraternity member caught on video leading a racist chant, during a news conference at Fairview Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Pettit apologized for the chant. Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the fraternity connected to the racist video, has announced the hiring of a diversity director who will be charged with helping the fraternity’s chapters across the nation become more inclusive. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

The fraternity connected to a racist video featuring University of Oklahoma students that surfaced this spring announced last Thursday that it has hired a director of diversity and inclusion.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon said it has appointed Ashlee Canty, who has worked in fraternity and sorority affairs at DePaul University and Syracuse University, to the new position to help oversee efforts to enhance diversity at the fraternity’s more than 230 chapters. Canty, who is African-American, also will work with local chapters to develop a system for monitoring and reporting diversity statistics.

The position is part of an initiative announced by the Evanston, Illinois-based fraternity in March after members of the now-defunct OU chapter were recorded taking part in a chant that included a reference to lynching and used a racial slur to describe how black students would never become members. At the time, SAE’s Executive Director Blaine Ayers acknowledged the chant was likely shared at the fraternity’s six-day retreat during an informal “social gathering” outside the normal slate of classes and seminars.

After the video came to light, OU President David Boren ordered two students expelled, severed ties with the local chapter and closed down the fraternity house. More than 20 other members of the chapter faced punishment that included mandatory community service and cultural sensitivity training.

The fraternity also announced in March that it was reviewing all 237 chapters for racially offensive behaviors, but a spokesman said Thursday that investigation hasn’t been completed.

“We knew that it was going to take some time,” said SAE spokesman Brandon Weghorst. “It’s tough to perform an investigation over the summertime whenever the undergraduates aren’t even on campus.”

SAE began collecting racial and ethnic data in 2013. About 3 percent of SAE’s reporting members identified as African-American and 20 percent identified as non-white, Ayers said.

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