(NORMAN, Okla.) — An attorney for alumni of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chapter said he hopes to speak with university officials to address “a premature rush to judgment” over a racist video involving SAE members.
University officials have expelled two students over the incident, severed ties to the fraternity chapter and ordered its members out of their fraternity house.
“We need to avoid a rush to judgment, we need to lower our voices, and we need to take a breath,” said the SAE chapter lawyer, Stephen Jones, who previously has represented convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Jones said on Friday he has been hired by alumni members who served on the board of the university’s local SAE chapter, but does not represent the two suspended fraternity members who were shown on a video leading a racist chant.
He said he had only recently been hired and still was getting fully up to speed on the case, but said, “obviously, there are issues about First Amendment rights, due process and real estate issues, but we’re still gathering documents.”
Adding that university officials, including the university president, David Boren, should have deployed “a more measured response” to the video.
He also objected to a general atmosphere that, he said, has resulted in “the painting of a fraternity … with a tar brush as bigots.”
Boren has said the students who played a leadership role in the “exclusionary” chant had created a hostile learning environment. He said the chant was heard not only by those on a bus, but also affected the entire university community because it was distributed through social media.
As of now, Jones says he hopes to reach a “non-litigation” solution with officials in the SAE case.
“We believe that working together in a positive manner, we can find a solution that is acceptable to everyone to make this a teachable moment,” Jones added.
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