Following BroBible's story about the allegedly racist SAE pledging activity that got Washington University' chapter suspended, Wash. U's student newspaper, Student Life, has come through with a few more details. The paper also reports that the chapter is now also under a cease-and-desist order from SAE's National chapter.
Above is the list of items from the campus scavenger hunt, and below is more information on the incident:
Several black students eating dinner at Bear’s Den Tuesday night were approached by a group of fraternity pledges who took a picture of a pledge brother standing behind the diners as part of a pledge scavenger hunt.
Later, another SAE pledge began reading the lyrics to Dr. Dre’s “B—— Ain’t S—” in slam-poetry style for the same scavenger hunt. According to a copy of the scavenger hunt instructions, the pledge could also have chosen Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz’s “Get Low.” Both songs contain multiple uses of the N-word.
Sophomore Fade Oluokun said he and the other black students sitting at the table were confused and startled by the pledges’ actions.
After the pledge read the racial slur in the song lyric, Oluokun said he left the table to distance himself from the situation.
“(I) just thought it would be best if I walked away before I did something that I wouldn’t like doing,” Oluokun said. “We weren’t really doing anything. We were just kind of taken aback by it all.”
The newspaper also ran this quote from an anonymous SAE pledge:
An SAE pledge who spoke under the condition of anonymity claimed that the scavenger hunt activity had no objective of racist conduct.
“The scavenger hunt was in no way created with poor intentions but rather to allow the pledge class to bond as they explored the [Delmar] Loop and the SAE house,” the pledge said. “The student chosen to read the song was chosen because of his involvement in slam poetry. The picture of the students at the table was in fact a picture of the student standing in the corner—a running joke amongst the pledge class. “
“It is entirely understandable how the event could be misconstrued, and I can say with absolute certainty that every member of SAE is saddened by what happened,” the student added. “However, the extent to which these rumors have spread and the degree to which innocent and unsuspecting, albeit sometimes stupid, freshmen are being persecuted is horrifying.”
Still, some students at Washington University are outraged. Via:
Sophomore Reuben Riggs, president of the Association of Mixed Students, said the incident is an unfortunate sign that the group has a long way to go in promoting an accepting campus atmosphere.
He said that he personally considers the slur symptomatic of a wider campus culture that tolerates casual discrimination.
“This is beyond an individual incident. This is beyond SAE, beyond Greek Life. This is a Wash. U. problem,” Riggs said. “They’re from a culture that allows it and deems it to be OK, which is why I think there needs to be a really strong reaction.”
“Clearly it’s a derogatory song, but also there are homophobic parts to it, and in the title itself it’s very misogynistic and anti-feminist,” Riggs said. “We’re going to support [the Association of Black Students] and the black community but also help the community see that this is not just the black community’s problem but other communities’ problem as well.”
It's clear now that poor decisions were made in regards to how, and where, the SAE pledges chose to give their slam-poetry performance of Dr. Dre’s “B*tches Ain’t Shit." A BroBible tipster writes:
I applaud the WashU administration and studlife for the swift response to such action, yet I wish that they had paused to observe all the facts before prematurely blowing this situation up and inflaming the community with sensationalist reporting. The facts were botched and several people were thrown in a worse light than they should have been. I think the kids thought the idea to recite the rap song as a slam poem in front of their black peers would be amusing especially after their prior confrontation. The idea was obviously stupid and ridiculous. These kids should have used better judgement because they should have known the effect that word has and the feelings they were going to inflame. There is much more to this case, but this is all I'm willing to put in this email which has grown beyond what I expected. Lest my words are misconstrued, I am not a privileged white male ignorant of people around him. Despite how little being a privileged white male should devalue my opinion, I figure I should make that point clear.
We've received numerous emails from Wash U students calling the incident much ado about nothing. Our question, though, remains: Does chalking it up to a "bad decision" really excuse the offending actions? Yes, people make poor choices, especially when caught up in the moment. Everyone's human. However, dropping the always-incendiary N-bomb while reciting a rap song in a public place on campus definitely wasn't the smartest thing to do. When offended parties "considers the slur symptomatic of a wider campus culture that tolerates casual discrimination," maybe it's time to take a look in the mirror.
Now SAE at Washington University moves to a formalized investigation and due process with the university and National. Yes, it sucks for all of SAE at Washington University that the entire organization will be punished because of one person's poor decision-making. It's hard not to sympathize with the members of the fraternity who are now being chastised despite no involvement with the alleged incident. It's unfair the whole organization has to suffer, but that's what happens when someone does something dumb while representing an organization, be it a politician, Applebees waitress, football program, or fraternity member. That's just how the world reacts to moments of crisis.
Does the punishment fit the alleged crime?
Your opinions in the comments.
[H/T: A. Grama]