Garrison: #SAEHatesMe

Zac Garrison Senior from Franklin, Ky.

     I have been in a fraternity for the better part of four years. I pledged the first semester of my freshman year and I’ve never been embarrassed to wear my letters.

     In the past, I’d been upset about how fraternities were portrayed by the media.  They never seem to reflect on our philanthropy, our values we were created upon or the bond we share as brothers

But this weekend, I wholeheartedly agreed with how Greeks were portrayed in the media.

Writing about the Greek community in anything close to a negative light is the quickest way to get nasty emails and a plethora of pitchforks waiting for me outside my door, but this is something we all need to hear.    

Monday, a video was released showing the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma chanting a song that was racist and disgusting. I would transcribe what it said for you, but I don’t think The News’ copy editors would be too happy about printing the horrible things that were said.

The video is terrible, but something that needs to be discussed.

Fraternities have a long list of stereotypes and stigmas that come along with the letters. This situation only makes that worse. If I were a parent sending my child to a university after seeing this video, I would tell my son to stay as far away from the Greek system as possible. I wouldn’t want my son to partake in an organization that accepted such crass and intolerable things. These young men have a lot to learn and they will suffer the consequences.

Don’t think that these young racists are the only ones to be affected – not by a longshot. This is one step back for the Greek system as a whole. We preach the values we were founded on but allow this kind of behavior to come from our brothers and sisters.

How can we preach the good aspects of Greek Life while evidence of racism and misogyny is plastered all over the evening news?

I will, however, applaud the University of Oklahoma and the public for how they have handled the situation. The video was released, and by midnight on Tuesday, the chapter was kicked off campus by its national headquarters, publicly humiliated on the Internet and lost their house.

Within 24 hours of this disgraceful video being released, the situation had been addressed, and the guilty parties got what was coming to them; kudos to the University of Oklahoma and SAE Nationals for their swift response.

These guys deserved to be made an example of. I even wrote about the “viral wall of shame” in my last column. This will open eyes about just how quickly something can spread once it hits the Internet.  They deserved to be held accountable and it lets the world know that universities won’t stand for this kind of behavior.

I’ve seen situations like this swept under the rug too many times and it’s refreshing to see that the guilty parties will be held accountable for their actions.

This situation is a hot topic in the Greek community. Most people know about it and have seen the video. I hate to see a fraternity removed from campus because of my personal bond with my brothers, but these gentlemen deserved their punishment.

How long the fraternity was singing this chant is still a question, but according its official website, SAE was comprised of confederate soldiers in Alabama during this Civil War. This kind of news report only fuels the generalization that all fraternities are racist and exclusionary and ruins our credibility when we try and argue against it.

I am a fraternity man. My fraternity was not founded on or taught the virtues of racism and misogyny. We preach the values of learning, leading and serving. I wear my letters with pride and I know for a fact they do not stand for hate and bigotry.

You may generalize the Greek system because of the media, but I will stand by my creed and my mission statement. I will never abandon the virtues and values instilled in me because they make me better than the man I used to be.

To SAE brothers at the University of Oklahoma: Make sure and taste your words before you spit them out. You might not think they’re nearly as funny then.

Column by Zac Garrison, Senior from Franklin, Ky.