Sigma Alpha Epsilon: Washington University Frat Accused of Racist Pledge Prank Reinstated

A Washington University fraternity that got national attention earlier this year in the face of accusations of a bizarre, racist pledge prank has been reinstated.

As we reported in February, the local chapter of the frat was suspended following reports that white pledges had photographed black students and then recited a rap in front of them that included racial slurs.

"I can confirm that the temporary suspension of SAE has been lifted by University," Wash. U. spokesman Steve Givens says in an e-mail to Daily RFT this morning. "The investigation is now complete."

But what discipline did the accused students face?

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In the aftermath of the incident, officials from the national headquarters of the fraternity -- which has the slogan "Be True" -- noted that most members of SAE did not participate.

Givens' statement today continues:

Charges under the university student judicial code were filed against the chapter and certain individuals and sanctions are being imposed, the details of which I am not permitted to disclose.

It is thus unclear at this time what kind of disciplinary actions any students might have faced or what the long-term consequences could be for the frat.

As the university launched its investigation, it suspended all chapter activities. But it appears that now SAE is back in action at Wash. U.

A spokesman with the national headquarters tells Daily RFT that SAE has no comment at this time, and the Wash. U. fraterniy's student president did not respond to a request for comment today.

Here's a screengrab of a Facebook thread from March in which the local president responded to an angry student, followed by the university chancellor's original statement.

Dear members of the Washington University community, Core to our values as an institution is a firm commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment that not only recognizes but also celebrates the diversity of our students, faculty and staff. When we fail to meet those values in any way, we are all affected. The university received reports that late last evening in the Bears Den on the South 40, new members of one of the university's fraternities, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), engaged in racially offensive behavior directed toward a group of students of color.

This morning, I called together a group of university leaders after hearing about the reports, and we have already set in motion a thorough investigation of the incident and all those involved. In addition, all chapter activities of SAE have been suspended until the investigation is complete.

Just as important, we need to listen to each other about what happened and recognize the pain and disappointment that occur when any of us fail to live up to the expectations of living, studying and working here at Washington University. Therefore, as an important first step, members of my team and I will be reaching out to a number of student group leaders, including those from the Association of Black Students and Student Union's Diversity Affairs Council, to begin this dialogue.

It saddens me and it is unacceptable when any member of our community is a victim of discrimination, ignorance or hatred. The reported behavior is totally incongruous with the university's firm belief in the power of diversity. We are a community that values everyone, and this kind of behavior is an insult and an affront to us all. We are stronger as an institution and a community when we draw on our differences to learn and grow.

If you have any concerns or have more information about the incident, please contact my office directly at 935-3359.

Sharon Stahl Vice Chancellor for Students

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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