OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The University of Oklahoma’s renowned football team has suspended practice for a week in protest against a racist video linked to a fraternity and called for punishment of its leadership, team members said on Thursday.
The 10-second video was shot on a bus chartered for a date night by the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and posted online on Sunday. Students are seen and heard chanting in unison, using offensive language referring to blacks and vowing never to admit them to the fraternity.
“It is our passionately expressed desire as members of the football team for the leadership of SAE to be expelled, suspended or otherwise disciplined severely,” a statement from the football team said, adding that leaders of the fraternity helped foster a culture of intolerance.
The university has closed the fraternityand expelled two students for their leading role in the chanting. The students have apologized for their actions.
The football team, with the support of its coach, said it will hold a demonstration over the video during normal practice time on Thursday.
“We simply cannot wait to get back on the practice field in our pursuit of a national championship, but a national championship is not more important than using our platform as student athletes to make our university and nation a better place,” it said.
The university is investigating the officers of the fraternity and will create the post of vice president of diversity to help prevent another flare-up of racial tensions, the school said on Thursday.
The person who assumes the diversity job will work with the president and have responsibilities that include making sure events at the school, which has a majority white student body, are inclusive.
University President David Boren has been speaking with a possible candidate for the job, the school said.
Boren, a Democrat, served as Oklahoma’s governor from 1975 to 1979 and was a U.S. senator from 1979 to 1994.
Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott and Mohammad Zargham