Oklahoma University is not what SAE is about

It was with astonishment and disbelief that I read of the atrocity that happened by a group of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity members at Oklahoma University. My mouth literally fell open as I heard their chant. After digesting this horrible news I was left not only with a bad taste in my mouth, but a heaviness in my heart.

No, I’m not naive to the happenings of our world, nor the history of this country in terms of racism. It seems, as a society, for every step forward we take there are those who take two steps back. What ever happened to the Golden Rule, the Second Commandment; “To love thy neighbor as thy self?”

One of the reasons this hit me right in the gut is that I am a member of one of the oldest and largest college fraternities in the nation. Yes, I am an SAE. I pledged and became a member of the Montana Beta Chapter while attending the University of Montana. I did so because I believed in the fraternity’s mission and vision.

While I may not remember everything that happened during my time at Montana Beta, I do know there were never any chants like those at Oklahoma University. The only “N” word I remember was “Nother”, nother beer, nother burger, nother test, etc. We didn’t have any “special” names for the Native Americans, Asians, Jews, lesbians or gays that were students either. We may have had a few football game cheers that raised an eyebrow or two, but they all resulted in a smile or laugh.

There is one thing I do remember and, frankly, will never forget; the SAE creed, “The True Gentleman.”

“The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.”

– John Walter Wayland

At Montana Beta, the men, my brothers, lived up to this creed. We, as brothers, made sure we did. Were we always true gentlemen? Oh, we all stepped out of line from time to time as any bunch of guys will do, but we were always there to help each other back. We treated each other and those around in accordance to the words of the creed. It was our culture.

Apparently this is unfortunately not the culture at the Oklahoma University Chapter. This whole thing is bigger than two men leading a chant and a house mother spouting off. It goes much deeper than that. This isn’t a chant they learned at their last “kegger.” It seems it has been around awhile. It seems to be part of their culture.

Punishment was needed as the investigation continued and I am happy to see how quickly it came about. And though shutting down that SAE Chapter at this time is the right thing to do, I hope that the university and the SAE national office can work together to eventually rebuild a good relationship and reopen it. And when that time comes, may it be grounded by men with honor, strong ideals, humility and sincere hearts … True Gentlemen.