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Chicken-Fried News: Racist robes

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We live in a time when you can be childish, but you have to pay the consequences when that childishness goes too far. In the last few years, it seems University of Oklahoma (OU) fraternities are learning that lesson fairly frequently.

Alpha Sigma Phi is the latest OU frat to be publicly chastised for its behavior.

The group returned to campus after being disbanded for 20 years, and it doesn’t even have a house yet — KOCO reporter Patty Santos said its members “wanted to bring a positive limelight to Greek Life and to OU” — but that didn’t stop its members from bringing unwanted attention to the group. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words — and actions tell another story.

The photo in question features a man wearing a long-sleeved white robe with a pointed hood. The similarity to robes worn by Ku Klux Klan (KKK) white supremacist group members is uncanny, and it’s difficult to brush it aside. Several student groups tweeted the image and demanded an explanation from the university.

Fraternity president and CEO Gordy Heminger said the students were participating in an initiation ceremony and wore robes of different colors. They didn’t think about how the photo, sent via Snapchat, would be perceived. He said the white robe would no longer be used, and university personnel agreed that use of the robe wasn’t tied to racial issues.

“While the photo creates a confusing appearance. It appears that no racial symbolism was intended,” Jabar Shumate, OU University Community vice president, said in a media statement.

OU’s Alpha Sigma Phi founding president Matt Mullins also publicly apologized to those who were upset about the photo.

Sure, there’s a chance the photo might have been misinterpreted, but are we really supposed to believe this is the first time anyone noticed the robe’s similarity to KKK robes?

Print headline: Racist robes

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