The University of Oklahoma cut ties with its local Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter after an inflammatory, racist video went viral Sunday evening. University president David Boren released a scathing statement to the media Monday via Twitter, denouncing the frat's racism and writing, "I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow."
While Boren's decision should be celebrated for its non-ambiguous condemnation of racism, there is one unintended victim of the frat's closure: the house cook, Howard Dixon, who has reportedly spent 15 years inside SAE's doors, and now may have lost his job.
Some of the frat's alumni, angered by the actions of its current members, created two separate campaigns — on Indiegogo and GoFundMe — to raise funds to support Howard. In less than a day, the Indiegogo campaign has raised more than $17,000 of its $50,000 goal, proving the meaning of fraternity, as based in fellowship and compassion, still exists at OU.
Blake Burkhart started the Indiegogo campaign, he writes at the site, "to give some money to make sure [Howard] lands on his feet":
"Today we received the news that some ignorant kids have quickly destroyed something that thousands of men built. Because of these kids' actions, many will be affected. None more so than Howard."Those of you who lived in the house undoubtedly came to love Howard and his infectious smile (if not his chili dogs). He was always there to chat with you and more importantly, to take care of Mom B.
"Well, that man is going to walk up to the SAE house tomorrow morning and hear that he no longer has a job. He is going to learn who has been working for. And through some cruel twist of fate, he has to lose the job that he has held for over a decade. He is going to lose his job because of a bus full of racist kids."You know and I know that this isn't the house we lived in. I'm positive Howard knows this too."
For Howard, this event cuts twice as deep: First, as a black man witnessing racism from a bunch of frat bros; second, as a specific victim of these kids' racist actions. What's more, black unemployment is twice as high as that of whites (10.4% to 4.7%, respectively), and the formers' unemployment has been statistically shown to be influenced by systemic racism.
The deplorable actions of the racist frat bothers have had a tangible impact on Howard's life. The alumni who are taking action, while not excusing the organization's standing issues with racism, represent a more honest embodiment of the brothers as the "true gentlemen" they purport to be.
Mic has reached out to Burkhart as well as OU's Housing and Food Services Director for comment.