UW's Sigma Alpha Epsilon accused of using racial slurs; fraternity denies allegations

SEATTLE -- On the heels of the University of Oklahoma scandal over frat members doing a racist chant, the spotlight is now turned on the same fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, at the University of Washington.

A member of UW's Black Student Union says he and others clearly heard SAE members use a racial slur against them while they marched past the fraternity house in a "Black Lives Matter" march for racial justice on Feb. 25.

“I heard particularly, 'You apes, why are you here? Get out of our campus,'” Dirir Abdullahi said.

“I was very shocked, but at the same time I wasn’t, because these are the reasons why we are doing these protests, why we are doing these marches,” Abdullahi said.

SAE President Michael Hickey says the racial slur was reported to him on the same day of the march.

“Obviously racism is still prevalent. I don’t doubt that hurtful things were said to the participants of the walkout,” Hickey said.

But Hickey is confident that his fraternity brothers are not responsible.

“There were two individuals on the sidewalk that were seen yelling hurtful words,” Hickey said.

But those two people he says are not SAE members. But witness Abdullahi says he's not mistaken.

“It was on their property and it was multiple people, not two people, who conducted atrocities, I saw at least four or five people; I saw a few of them in the front and some on the lawn,” Abdullahi said.

“It’s something you don’t see much of nowadays and it’s shocking when you do,” student James Keaton said.

“I am not one to condemn someone if I don’t know the full story,” student Dasia Williams said.

Abdullahi hopes the full story will come out. He is pushing for a thorough investigation against SAE.

“We feel like we are actually ready to combat this to make a difference in this institution,” Abdullahi said.

The university is investigating the incident and is urging anyone who may have caught the racial slur on video to step forward.

UW Vice President for Student Life Denzil Suite released this statement.

“The University recently learned of alleged behavior during the Black Lives Matter march two weeks ago that contained grossly insensitive comments and rude gestures aimed at the marchers. The allegations attribute this behavior to members of one of our fraternities.

"We have been and are currently still in the process of gathering information about this incident to determine what occurred and who may have been responsible. To date we do not have answers to either of these questions.

"The behavior described is completely inconsistent with the University's values and expectations. We believe strongly in the value of our diversity and respect for our differences. We are committed to fostering a climate of civility that honors those differences. Any behavior antithetical to this is unacceptable.

"If and when we can determine what occurred, we will take appropriate steps to deal with it. In the meantime, we ask that anyone with photos, recordings, or videos of the incident in question to send them to me at OFSL@uw.edu."