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A Message From Tyrone Speller, Phi Delta Theta Chapter President At The University Of Oklahoma

03.11.2015

Oklahoma_Alpha

This week, The University of Oklahoma has gone from being known as one of the most prestigious schools in the country to being unfairly characterized as a racist institution. The actions of the members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity have deeply saddened me and the rest of the OU community, though I do not feel they represent the views of the entire OU Greek community and the University.

As an African American male in the OU Greek community, I was recently elected president of Phi Delta Theta, the highest leadership role in a chapter that is the fourth largest on campus and a regular contender for awards from our headquarters. In my experience, the majority of the OU Greek community is inclusive of all minorities, and it saddens me to see our Greek community being painted as “racist” according to the media and even fellow OU students. While I am in no way excusing the actions of the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, I think it is important that our local community and the rest of our nation do not let one small group overshadow the true nature of Greek life at OU. The actions of the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon were rooted purely in ignorance and were those of incredibly immature “children” — but it is not representative of today’s richly diverse culture in our Greek community.

As a member of the African American student body, I am very disappointed with both the initial incident and many of the subsequent reactions of the media and the student body. I believe that the media has neglected to cover all aspects of the events these past few days. I agree with punishing the students responsible for the chant and hosting demonstrations to encourage equality, but I am also deeply troubled by the students who decide to vandalize the property of other Greek houses or members in retaliation. I have heard of tires being slashed on Greek affiliated cars and indiscriminate threats of violence being sent to Greek members, but these incidents fail to be included in news coverage. All of this is completely uncalled for. When students feel hurt, they should not turn around and do the same thing in response. I had hoped that everyone would have been mature and let the University handle the problem at hand. It is pure and simple, you cannot fight hate with hate.

My experience in the OU Greek community has been an incredible one. This community has helped make me into the person I am today. It has never been about color, creed, sexual preference, etc. This Greek community truly is a family, has welcomed me, and is one of the reasons I attend this university. Going through recruitment, I never once felt out of place — not even in my experiences with members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

In regards to inclusiveness within the OU Greek community, other multicultural fraternities and student groups are able to participate alongside the IFC and Panhellenic organizations in many University activities, including homecoming, intramurals, Sooner Scandals, etc., and I encourage them to do so. Being a person of color in a predominately white fraternity has helped me and my fellow brothers learn much from each other by sharing our different backgrounds with one another. But the divisive reactions from many different groups on campus to this current situation has left me feeling as if I am being torn between two major components that make me who I am.

People need to realize that this is not a “minorities” vs. the “Greeks” battle. This is not a choice between two competing cultures. We are one student body. The Greek and African American aspects of my life should not be difficult to balance. The outrage and shock at the actions of a few ignorant, small minded people is equally as great amongst the Greeks that I know and respect as well as among my African American brothers. The anger, however, needs to be directed at those few who should be held accountable for their own bad behavior and not at an entire class of people in one broad stroke.

It disappoints me when the good in Greek life does not make headlines and is overshadowed by this horrible story. For example, last week OU students (mainly Greeks) raised over half a million dollars at Soonerthon which is OU’s official philanthropy benefiting the local Children’s Hospital. That is a truly remarkable accomplishment. Yet today, all we are talking about is the narrow-minded, hateful views of a few individuals.

I do not believe that OU is racist, nor do I believe that racism is prevalent within the OU Greek community, but it will take time to remove this horrible stain that has been brought upon the University. I hope our nation realizes that OU is and always will be a university of acceptance and equal opportunity. You just have to take the time to focus on the right things.

Tyrone Speller
Phi Delta Theta Chapter President
Oklahoma Alpha at the University of Oklahoma

211 thoughts on “A Message From Tyrone Speller, Phi Delta Theta Chapter President At The University Of Oklahoma

  1. Brother Tyrone,

    It brings me great pride that we have great representatives and powerful voices such as yours that represent Phi Delta Theta in addition to University of Oklahoma. I have monitored these events the past several days and could not stop think about how thankful I was that it wasn’t our chapter since we have much better character than that. Throughout my tenture at Phi Delt (2006-2011), I never experienced any racism or any related bigotry. I’ll have to take a visit sometime soon. I have not been up there since I graduated and I heard that the house has changed a lot. You guys keep doing what you do best and be the face of inspiration and pride to those around us.

    Yours in the Bond,
    Benjamin Simpson
    Oklahoma Alpha 2063

  2. Brother Tyrone,
    Your elegant and direct comments truly encompass the nature of our great fraternity. Keep up the good work.
    Yours in the Bond,
    Steve Shatkin, ’89
    California Mu

  3. Brother Tyrone-

    Very proud of this article and how this chapter handles ourselves.

    Yours in the Bond,
    Brad Balke
    Oklahoma Alpha 2190

    1. Brother Tyrone;
      Wonderful response to the hateful actions of ignorant individuals, both those that initiated the horrible chant and those that then used that wrong to justify their own senseless reactions. Though separated by distance, and many years..proud to call you Brother.

      Yours in the Bond,
      Jeff Fagan
      Va Eta ’83 #150

  4. Mr. Speller, as the Sooner parent of an AOII in Norman, I have watched from a distance the events of the past few days. It is refreshing to read your calm and rational thoughts when everything else being reported on the news and in social media is inflammatory in nature. I *know* that this incident does not reflect the true nature of the OU community, but the rest of the world does not. Thank you for speaking out and attempting to bridge a gap between two groups that is not as wide as each side may think. Best of luck in your future endeavors, and #BoomerSooner!

    Susan Allen
    McKinney,. TX

    1. Please know that there are some of us in “the rest of the world” that realize this incident does not reflect the true nature of OU, or it’s Greek Life.
      Mr. Speller – great response!

  5. Tyrone,

    Your words are well said and your message strong. Thanks for all you do for our great fraternity.

    Yours in the Bond,
    Josh Baker
    Past President, Cal Lambda ’00

  6. Brother Tyrone,

    Thank you for your comments. With all the attention this has received in the media the past several days, it is refreshing to have a positive perspective o n Greek life at OU. All the best!

    Yours in the Bond,
    Bob Mache
    Iowa Beta

  7. Thank you so much for this response! My daughter (blonde, blue-eyed) recently graduated from OU and was a member of a campus sorority that she SOUGHT OUT for it’s diversity. The actions in the SAE video are dispicable but in no way reflect the student body, or even the Greek population, as a whole. So happy that your Greek experience has been a good one. I feel certain you have made a positive difference in the lives of your fraternity brothers as well.

  8. Proud to be a Phi, and proud you are my brother. Thank you for your service to Phi Delta Theta and the character you have to address this issue. You are definitely a true leader.

  9. As an Oklahoma Alpha Phi Bond number 1502, I am so proud of Brother Speller! Fantastic and inspirational article at exactly the right time. Can’t wait to meet you and congratulate you. Proud to Be a Phi.

  10. Tyronne:

    Congratulations on your achievements at the Phi Delt house at OU, but more importantly, thank you for your open letter. The Greek System, the University and the State of Oklahoma needs positive shots in the arm like your letter.

    One suggestion. Your letter speaks of not painting the entire Greek System or the University as a whole as racist. Obviously, painting with too broad a brush is never good. However, within the first three paragraphs of your letter you make three references to “the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon” about what occurred last Saturday. However, it seems that you, too, are painting with too broad a brush. The actions of Saturday did not involved ALL “the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon” but only “some” of the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. I know of several members of that chapter who were not even at that party…some chose not to attend the party, some had to work, and some were studying abroad…and frankly, some were on other busses and not involved in the unacceptable behavior.

    So, when you imply that it was ALL the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, you run the risk of looking hypocritical of the overly broad painting that you so eloquently advocated against in your letter.

    In any event, good letter.

    Thanks,
    Eric

    1. Eric,

      When anyone in the media or in open letters like this one place blame on the individuals and on SAE as a group, it is a valid statement, not painting with too broad a stroke. When you join an organization, particularly those that are rooted in ritual and bonding, part of your identity becomes the group identity. Fraternities are often handled as groups, not as individuals, for good reason. What happens at a fraternity event reflects the philosophy of the organization. Period. If there are individuals who don’t hold similar beliefs, by not speaking up, they are equally to blame. No one, apart from those students riding on other buses, knows what took place on their rides. We don’t have the footage to judge. They are by no means innocent in this though. That song was taught to the fraternity as a whole. They are all guilty. Generations before them are guilty. That can be a hard truth for anyone now dealing with the consequences of their inaction, but forcing an organization to look at their practices as a whole is the point here. It is easy to blame/punish a few and then forget an incident. Blaming the group is a way to ask that things be made better from within.

      1. I do not agree with SAE in any capacity, I think it was thoughtless and horrible, however, saying that EVERY member was taught a song like that is simply not true. There are plenty of chants associated with Greek houses that are old, never were created by the organization or definitely not sanctioned by the organization. These might be passed down by members that learned them from past members, from other chapters, from the internet, etc not everyone would know this or use it as a chant. I do not know this chapter, maybe they do all think this way, but maybe some of them are now trapped with their names associated to an organization they no longer want to be associated with. And maybe they are jerks that deserve it. The University should take action and look into this; it is a learning experience for many, as it should be. What happened was wrong, no doubt, and now a national dialog can begin about it.

        Mr. Speller, your comments are wonderful and valid and shed a different light on Greek life that has been tarnished by a number of scandals throughout the country. Thank you for that.

  11. Nicely put! Keep up the good work and continue to hold that name of yours in the highest regards! Come join us on facebook@Speller’s and Kinship

  12. Well said…and well done!

    Yours in the Bond,
    Phillip Bromagen
    Oklahoma Beta #742

  13. Mr. Speller,

    While I am not a brother in your fraternity I am a still a brother in the OU Greek system at heart. I would like to thank you for writing this message. It’s refreshing to hear a voice of reason.

    James Welsh
    Southlake, TX
    Sigma Phi Epsilon 1992

  14. I’m proud to say that we charged ourselves with rebuilding OK-A as a house for all men. It looks like the house has become a role model for all to follow.

    D.H.
    OK-A 1852

  15. Nicely done Tyrone. Proud to see this.

    Robert Reid
    OU Phi Delta Theta
    #1671(1986)

  16. Mr. Speller,
    I have never read a more eloquent expression of intelligence and “street smarts” in my lifetime. Your beautifully written word from the heart truly remind me of Dr. King’s. Your words need to be heard and I am going to do what I can to help your message get out to the national media so they give you all of the fine students at your outstanding university a chance to be heard…..and not just those from a few “children” as you said. Keep up the magnificent work!
    Y.I.T.B.
    Randy Garrett
    Texas Zeta #380

  17. Thank you for this wonderful statement! As an alumna of the Oklahoma State University Greek system, please know that we support you and the OU Greek community and we stand with you to strengthen the name of all fraternal organizations. We were equally as appalled over the actions of a hateful few and support all of you!

  18. To call OU one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation is a bit much…

  19. Could not agree with you more Tyrone. I am very happy to read your post that so eloquently captures my thoughts on the matter exactly. Thank you for your message and your bravery to voice it. You are a true leader.

    Brittany Ryan
    Pi Beta Phi, Oklahoma Alpha
    PC ’06

  20. I am very proud of you Mr. Speller. Keep up the good work and continue to be an encouragement to others and your frat brothers. Since OU is my alma mater, this incident hurt me deeply. Thanks for stepping up and sharing your heartfelt thoughts about this situation at OU. Be blessed young man …and keep leading.

  21. Tyrone Speller,
    Although I am not a brother in your Fraternity and not a student at OU, thank you for your open letter to the OU Community, both Greek and Non-Greek, and to the people outside the Oklahoma border. It takes a strong and courageous person to write such a letter despite all of the negative social innuendoes and scrutiny that Greek affiliated members receive today. Keep grindin and making your Fraternity, OU, and yourself better. Goodluck in your future endeavors.

    Dorian Ivan Medina 15′
    Sigma Chi
    Theta Xi Cal State Sacramento
    IHSV

  22. Brother Tyrone,

    I can’t commend you enough for your thoughtful, mature response to a very frustrating situation. While it’s unfortunate that a few individuals can quickly taint what empowering, positive contributions many Greek organizations make towards campus life and other worthy causes, I’m proud for the voice a fellow Phi shared in this instance. Though the Pacific NW and Oklahoma are separated by quite a distance, I’m proud to see that the strong Phi Delt ideals haven’t wavered through distance or time. In short, well done.

    Yours In The Bond,
    Conor Bradley (’02) #1024
    Washington Delta (Puget Sound)

  23. Would it be possible for the OU IFC or some/all chapter presidents to sign some sort of statement that supports your (excellently stated) points and get that document out to the public? I’m an old “Greek” and when i was at OU, I was one of 15 members of my family who were at or who had graduated from OU, so I have deep and expansive roots there. I have no doubt that this SAE incident (the bus and the house mother videos) are isolated. And it would sure be encouraging to all OU alumni and OU Greek alumni/ae to see a strong statement. Thanks, and congratulations on your new office.

  24. Mr.Speller, as a white 58 year old fat man, and deemed racist “conservative”, I would like to thank you so much for your ,beyond your years. statement. You are a fine young person and I ask God to bless you for your statement and your beliefs’. May you prosper and find greatness in this, the greatest country in the world. Thanks again.Scott

  25. Both my brother and my father in law were Phi Delts. Thank you, young man and sir, for your words and leadership in a time of crisis. Good to know that you are out there and the high expectations still exist. Carry on!

  26. Very well said. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I know many are forwarding this article on FB. It saddens many of us who had a positive Greek experience that a few people can damage a reputation of such a wonderful university and Greek system.
    Amanda
    OU Chi Omega
    PC ’99

  27. Tyrone,

    Thank you for posting a well thought out description of what is really going on at the University of Oklahoma, and for your personal testimonial. While the video was disgraceful, it was certainly not representative of all fraternities. Those of us that know the OU Greek system know that it has been mischaracterized by main stream media.

    Sincerely,
    Robert Beall
    Beta Theta Pi
    Oklahoma ’80

  28. I just hope EVERYONE who reads this will pass it along to EVERYONE they know!! Well said, Ty!

  29. Not a big Oklahoma fan but I know for a fact that mostly everyone at the school is better than we saw in the video. Thanks for writing out your thoughts. Keep on keepin’ on.

  30. As a Theta alumna from OU, I am proud to have you representing the Greek system. Your words are mature and thoughtful and absolutely encapsulate OU Greek life. Congratulations on saying, with integrity and dignity, what so many of us have tried to put in to words. I wish you much more success and a bright, full future!

  31. Well said, I am proud of you and your brothers at Phi Delta Theta! This is the OU that I know so well and I appreciate your willingness to stand up and make your voice heard. Your parents should be proud to call you their son and the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity should definitely be proud to call you their brother. Boomer!

  32. Thank you Tyrone. I too was a member of Sigma Chi from 75-77 and now am a life member and proud of it and my UNIVERSITY OU. I would have then been proud to call you a brother and want to now. Even though we are from different houses and races you are my brother. Brother Tyrone you have spoken your mind as well as your heart. Best of luck to you and I know you will stand tall among many in your life. Proud of you. Dave Hodge

  33. Thank you Tyrone for an eloquent and insightful message . As the proud mother of a graduate of OU and member of Phi Delta Theta , I applaud your message . Thanks for you for your voice.

  34. Brother Speller,

    Well done. Proud to call you a brother.

    Yours in the Bond,

    Joe Gagnon
    Texas Zeta (TCU) #690

  35. Very well said young man. Do not let the actions of a few define the whole group.

  36. Very eloquently stated. It’s a shame that the actions of a few jerks and the media’s refusal to focus on anything but the negative have cast Oklahoma, OU and the Greek system in such a negative light. I hope that not only do the young men in the video learn something and change their ignorant ways, but also that others come to realize that this incident is not truly representative of Oklahomans, OU or the Greek community. Thank you for your intelligent response and positive perspective, Tyrone. Best of luck to you in all your future endeavors.

    Megan Miers
    Chi Omega (Epsilon Gamma chapter) ’96

  37. Well said Tyrone. As a DG from Texas Tech I applaud your endorsement of the Greek life. Your chapter is fortunate to have you at the helm. Delta Gamma and Phi Delt were/are considered sister/brother fraternities since George Banda was instrumental in helping to expand DG. He is one of the few, if not only, male Delta Gammas.

  38. Good words! As a Greek alum, it makes me proud to see young Greeks stand up against the negativity that the media has tried to portray in the Greek community. The actions of these few men do not represent the actions of all Greek societies.
    I hope your words ring far and wide!
    Roger Schilling
    Kappa Sigma, Nu-Phi Chapter
    Northeastern State University, ’94

  39. Thank you for your wonderful response to the situation at O U. I am married to an SAE from Mt. Union in Ohio. I have been to O U for a VIPhi conference and my great uncle, Ray R. Mosely was graduated from OU. I am currently the Alumnae Engagement Administrator for the Northern Quadrant of Alpha Phi. I have many connections to you. You are absolutely correct in you message. The Greek system has so much to offer to all of us. I feel terrible that this situation took place at OU and gives Greek Life a negative image. Again, a few bad behaviors shouldn’t mar all the good we do. Those responsible need to be held accountable. We always hate for a few to take away from all of the good our Greek community does and offers to so many. Thank you for your insight. Good luck to all of you at OU.

  40. Brothers,

    This is a time for us to stand together and present to the US what it means to be a strong organization that believes in truth and brotherhood. We will lead the way and mark the path for other to follow.

    Y.I.T.B.
    Chris Laley
    Oklahoma Alpha 1880

  41. Tyrone – as an alumni of OU (BBA 1980) and a former member of the Greek System (Phi Kappa Sigma), I salute you and your message. Thank you for speaking out. I wish everyone could hear your message. I also applaud your brothers who stand with you in this difficult time. Keep the faith. Stay true to your high morale values, your outstanding education and your deeply rooted sense of inclusion and equality. You are a shining example of leadership and I wish you well in your bright future.

  42. Well said! It is quite unfortunate that the focus has generalized the Greek system, and has been so focused on the narrow-minded “children”. It only perpetuates the stereotype and absurdly false representation of SAE, your school, the OU Greek system, and all Greek organizations! I really appreciate your direct call to action.

    Stacey Cox
    Pi Beta Phi, Texas A&M University PC ’07

  43. Tyron,

    I know exactly how you feel. As a person of color and member of the Greek Community at the University of Central Florida, I commend you on your demeanor and response. I have made similar statements and I know it can be difficult especially when members of the African-American community call you an “Uncle Tom”. I’ve been there, it’s hard. I understand the frustration of different communities that have strong feelings that may conflict at times, but balancing your identity between them all should not be difficult.

    When I first heard about the incident, I knew it was going a tough time for your school and Greek community to overcome especially how media presents race issues. Yes, these incidents merit attention, but the news media is not concerned about giving a holistic view and understanding of the issue. It’s all for ratings. I only hope that your story and true essence of the environment of the campus and student body gets heard.

    One thing I’d like to mention is that I hope that this can become a learning opportunity. Obviously this is not a generational issue, but I hope that this will inspire more of a proactive education on race at an early age that will combat the ignorance and hatred that perpetuates institutional discrimination and racism(hidden attitudes of racism or covert behaviors between individual members of society that is not seen by the general public only when evidence is provided). Even though the university may not feel the need to take up the opportunity to educate these misguided students, but society needs to do more than just ostracize people whenever they “accidentally” get caught. It’s your school, but I had hoped that the school would have taken alternative or innovate disciplinary actions that severely punishes every individual involved in participating in the chant with the opportunity to learn and not go back into the abyss of ignorance and hate. We may have won this battle, but we are still finding the war.

  44. Brother Tyrone,

    I went to OU when school pride depended heavily on the Saturday scoreboard and the team playing on Owen Field.

    I have never been more proud than I am now of you, the Oklahoma Alpha chapter, Phi Delta Theta and The University of Oklahoma for these words and thoughts. Thank you for being the right person at the right time doing and saying the right things.

    Yours In the Bond,
    Jeffery Dix
    Oklahoma Alpha 1468

  45. Well done. A fantastic and mature response.

    Yours in the Bond,
    Ryan Lucia
    WA Delta 985

  46. Mr Speller,

    I am proud to call you a brother. I think I can say without hesitation, that you represent the views and values of Phi Delta Theta. The media will always focus on the negative, you just keep being the shining ecame you are. The sky is the limit for you.

    Yours In The Bond
    Brian Matthews
    Missouri Zeta #94

  47. I graduated from OU in 2011 and was an AOII in college. During my time at OU, I was friends with many Phi Delts, and they are all as upstanding as you are. I have struggled the last few days to really articulate my feelings about this situation. I am proud to see that your eloquently written statement is garnering a lot of attention and I hope that people nationwide can understand that this one incident is not a reflection of our community as a whole. Thank you for being great representative of the Greek community, and of our fine alma mater. Live On University!

  48. Thank you for taking the time to show the other side. I am a Greek Woman from a small college in Michigan, and I work with high schoolers who have heard of the incident and this is the message I am trying to convey to them. You are an excellent role model for the Greek Community and the campus at large. Good luck in all that you do!

    Allie Sturtridge ’14
    Kappa Alpha Theta
    Pi Chapter
    Albion College

  49. What a wonderful post! As a sister of Kappa Kappa Gamma, I know that I would not be where I am today if not for my ΚΚΓ sisters and others in Greek life that I associated with. What happened with ΣΑΕ is inexcusable, but absolutely should not reflect upon everyone in the Greek community or everyone at the university. I can only hope that people understand this, and realize that fraternities and sororities actually do a lot of good that goes unnoticed and definitely does not make headlines.

  50. Thanks for your thoughtful commentary. One quibble: I was disappointed to see your use of the term “sexual preference” which connotes choice rather than “sexual orientation” which more affirmatively describes an immutable sexual attraction. This is an important distinction because “choice” has been used to deny LGBT people their rights. Helping people understand more fully that same-sex attraction is an actual orientation helps clear up misconceptions and promotes greater acceptance.

  51. This is an extremely well written point of view! Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts. Congratulations to the OU students (mostly Greeks) on raising over a half million dollars for Soonerthon, benefiting the local Children’s Hospital. (I’m an Alpha Chi Omega alumna from Stetson University.)

  52. Well said Tyrone! I don’t know you but I feel your honesty and love of your university! My daughters were both involved in Greek life and I do realize that there have always been a few who totally send the wrong message with their narcissistic and immature behaviors! OU is a great university and I wil pray that if this is a racial thing that God will intervene as we know He will! God bless you for speaking out for your school and classmates! You are truly a leader!

  53. Thank you for your commentary on the issue, this is the first time I have heard or read anything that deals with both sides of the issue. Thank you for representing OU!

  54. Mr. Speller,
    It is with great pride that a young man can state a clear direction and non-emotional description of the facts surrounding the sensationalizm the national media has made this ignorant chant has created. With your leadership and the way OU administrators are handling the situation I believe much good will come of it with everyone working together. A couple of years ago the Greek system at Alabama was found to be restricting black students from joining and the reaction was sad and little change has happen. Stay with the understanding that hate is never defeated by hate.
    Dr. Pete Franks
    Former President Pi Kappa Alpha Zeta Zeta Chapter

  55. Tyrone,

    Well said. Thank You.

    Jon Shay
    Sigma Alpha Epsilon 2005
    University of Colorado – Boulder

  56. Words cannot describe how much I appreciated your letter. Your words are such a light in a time of darkness for OU. I hope more people mirror your actions. Thank your for all that you stand for and sharing it with everyone.

    -Jen

  57. Thank you for speaking up!! Honestly! That does my heart such good, and quite frankly it needed to come from an African American Greek member!! God bless you!

  58. Thank you for an OU chapter President to have the bravery to step up and represent the Greek Community. I hope that those attitudes are of a few members of SAE and not the majority of their chapter. The mistakes of one, or a few members can destroy years of good deeds by others.
    Bill Buxton Past President, Theta Delta Chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. Oklahoma City University. 1980.

  59. Dear Sirs: What a sad day for you all 🙁 Thank you for your post.
    I am, indeed, prayerful regarding your opinion; thank you for your personal statement on the subject. I am truly sorry for the situation at hand and that there were (are) many individuals that whom were (are) clearly misguided by parents, friends, and other mentors at your university. Please stay strong and do not give up hope.
    Ms. Maz

  60. I applauded you Tyonne Speller! The Greek system works and will stand the test of time. My son was a Phi Delta Theta at Creighton University. We would be proud to stand in the Greek community with brothers and sisters of diversity. Strong individuals united will over come petty actions.

    Sue Stewart Fitzgerald, Sigma Kappa

  61. As an African American member of The Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, I couldn’t have said it any better. It is unfortunate that the fraternity I care so deeply about is going through this as a result of a few unworthy members that have not only ruined it for an entire chapter of ΣΑΕ, but marred the entire institution of Greek life. Like you said, all of the good we gets overshadowed by stories like this. We as a Greek family take pride in helping others, and doing what is right within the community, however the news wants to focus on our flaws. Granted, this is an inexcusable mistake it should discount all that we have done and continue to do. It is an unfortunate event, but we as Greeks are resilient and we shall bounce back, this one may take a bit more time.

    Thanks for everyone’s posting

  62. Brother Speller,
    Very well written. I join the other Brothers reading your words to thank you for your leadership and perspective. You are a credit to our Fraternity.
    Yours in the Bond,
    Tim Greve
    AZA 0957

  63. Well said. It’s sad that people want to paint any group with a broad negative stroke, whether it’s a race or gender or any group. There are good and bad people anywhere, there are good people who made bad decisions. Thanks for representing your school and your fraternity so admirably.

  64. Very well said however I do have to make a comment about Greek life at OU. I personally went through rush for sorority in 2005. In high school I had 4.29 GPA, honor society, member of several different organizations, state champion Pom squad winner for 3 years in a row. However I was deeply saddened when I was treated so horribly during the rush process! I am white so I am not talking about racism. I felt very inferior to all sorority female with exception of a few. The two years I was there I experienced a very snobby atmosphere by both sorority and fraternity. I had the worst time making friends. Very uppity school even though I love OU football. I would have to say that most people in Greek life are some of the most unapproachable and snobby people I have ever met in my life!!!

  65. Brother Tyrone,

    This is absolutely dead on. I could not agree more about everything you said. This is what needs to be published to the media. Tomorrow I have a meeting with all other presidents at Mizzou in order to come up with a way of responding to the incident. The residents of Columbia, Missouri are now questioning the integrity of Greek Life as a whole and your story will be passed on tomorrow at my meeting with fellow presidents from every chapter at Mizzou.

    Yours in the Bond,
    D.J. Buchholz
    Missouri Alpha 2710

  66. The term sexual preference is extremely offensive as it implies sexuality is a choice. This is why people are skeptical of the actual inclusiveness of Greek organizations.

    1. Because it is a choice. Every action you take is a choice and no one or nothing forces you to act on whatever feelings you have. Own it and stop being a victim.

    2. Brody,

      Regarding the term “sexual preference”, I think it can be implied from the context of the statement that there was no offense intended. Furthermore, while I share your belief that sexuality is not a choice, I have always used the terms “preference” and “orientation” interchangeably because I have believed them to mean the same thing. I know now that LGBT community doesn’t see it the same way. I’ll change my terminology going forward.

      But to judge the inclusiveness of the entire Greek system, based on what was most likely just a misuse of terminology, is painting the system with a broad brush and goes against everything Tyrone wrote in this piece. You seem like a sensitive guy who would take offense to someone making a judgmental generalization. Is it ironic you’re doing that here?

  67. Tyrone, you are right on point. Besides the small minded children that caused this, we only hear about bad things in the Greek life. Never the positive.

  68. Yes, it is great to expand and focus on the positive, but to move foward you have to look at the negatives and pay attention to what didn’t work. Just because you personally have not had a negative experience or racist interactions doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There are numerous incidents on campus regarding the Greek community and race that have not been made public. Focusing on the “right” things is great, but what does just focusing on the rights accomplish when there are so many wrongs happening behind closed doors.

  69. Brother Tyrone-
    Well said in a time of need. If there is any thing that I can do, or the brothers from CA Sigma can do to support you and the brothers of OK Alpha, please let us know.

    Yours in the bond
    Nema Hashemi
    California Sigma 27

  70. Brother Tyrone,
    Thank you very much!,
    I appreciate you for this ..
    YitB
    Jeff Akridge

    Washington Gamma. 1395

  71. Great analysis and very succinct. I am very proud to have you as a Brother.
    YITB #1334

  72. wowsers!!! Black, white, red, yellowish…this young man exudes utter beauty. This article is a beautiful BEAUTIFUL representation of forgiveness, understanding, intellectual thought and a drive to improve each and every person. I’m so so so impressed. Whew!!

  73. As a graduate member of the Delta Tau chapter of Phi Gamma Delta at SMU ’63, I am so proud of you for speaking out. As a 73 year old white man, I pray that this stupid SAE incident will not cause my grandson, Marshall Grant from Round Rock, TX to NOT go to OU because when he visited the campus recently, he met with Dr Boren and loved the big houses. Naturally I hope he will pledge FIJI, I would be personally proud if you would put Marshall on your pledge list. my oldest 52 year old son, Charles Maillot Martin, Jr. was a Phi Delta Theta at Washington & Lee.

    Why doesn’t The Daily Oklahoman cover your personal story as a black American and President of Phi Delt at OU. Cover something positive!!!

    All my 4 kids and 10 grandchildren went to Camp Longhorn whose motto is perfect for your life and I close…..” Attawaytogo “

  74. Brother Speller,

    Well said! Thank you for giving witness to our purpose as Phis.

    Yours in the Bond,

    Scott Warmka
    Wisconsin Gamma

  75. Well said young man!

    Tim Brierty
    Former President ’87
    Phi Delta Theta
    Texas Tech University
    Texas Epsilon ’83

  76. What a well written response. Anyone should be proud to be your friend and fraternity brother.
    Hopefully this will be resolved in a peaceful way with no more negative responses from ignorant students or others trying to insert themselves into the issue.

  77. Well spoken, sir! I’m glad to hear this. The media does often skip some important parts of the story.

  78. Perfect, Tyrone. This “old lady” Greek is uber proud of you and your chapter. You are a shining example of the good in today’s youth. Thank you for this.

  79. Well written. Thank you for standing up for the others in the Greek Community.

    -Kai-

  80. Thank you so much for your statement of solidarity. Coming from a widely diverse chapter and Greek system myself, events portrayed as such really stigmatizes the Greek system on my campus and has made it very difficult for our organizations to grow when Greek life is painted with such a wide brush with isolated events such as these. You statements further encourage me to continue my passion for promoting inclusion in the Greek community.

    Kayla Michelle Scanlan
    Gamma Phi Beta
    Alpha Alpha Chapter
    University of Toronto
    SS 12

  81. Mr. Speller,
    Thank you for taking the time to write this excellent message. Adversity builds strength and character, this axiom is evident in your message. Your leadership will be tested but you have shown your mettle. I am confident that you will lead the organization and its members through these tough times.

    Proud parents of a University of Oklahoma Phi Delta Theta.

  82. Great letter…..I’m the daughter of a Phi Delt, and the mother of two Penn State students. Now you know how devastating it is to be lumped in with the terrible actions of another- in PSUs case calling us all pediphiles or pediphile enablers. Fortunately, the false Freeh report is now being shown for the lie that it was. Unfortunately, the media and our nation don’t cate- they just wanted the sensationalism and wrote a false narrative at the start. 2 weeks ago, Penn State students raised 13 MILLION for pediatric cancer research at the annual IFC/Panhellenic THON dance marathon- and ESPNs Kieth Olnermann tweeted that was “Pitiful”! Good job standing up for your school and Greek system – no one except you all and your supporters will really care- the media loves to pile on and trash talk and that is what they have done to here- yet again. The country will think the worst , and don’t care to educate themselves on the real story….keep standing up for the truth and stay true to your selves and your values. WE ARE……supporting you!

  83. Well said, Tyrone! Many years ago, I was a member of a Greek Organization. Like you, it also shaped my life in a positive way. These friendships have continued over the decades…regardless of that fact that we are so very diverse. And yes, after all these years, we still support our Philanthropies. We have packed boxes for food pantries and helped local Girl Scout troupes earn several badges. We come from all walks of life and travelled many interesting paths. Are there issues regarding race, sexual orientation, etc? No!

  84. David Boren’s knee jerk reaction to the acts of TWO individual members of SAE was almost as deplorable as the actions of TWO members of SAE. He stole the education of the entire group for the actions of TWO.
    They should sue the University and if others in the Greek community suffer, they too should sue.
    Boren should be appropriately sanctioned for his lack of wisdom. He was just trying to protect his reputation.

  85. I am very impressed with your eloquence, Mr. Speller. Your comments are very positive and insightful.
    Judge Zwaan, mother and wife to Phi Delta Theta alumni

  86. I was pleased to read you article about your experience with Greek life at OU. It really troubled me that we weren’t hearing any positive news. My sons were Phi Gamma Deltas at OSU, and their experience was exactly like yours in your house. You shine such a positive light on the whole system, no matter the school, or no matter which fraternity you are in. Thank you!

  87. As a fellow Greek from a southern university I commend you for your thoughtful, eloquent, and direct comments . There is not one national fraternity or sorority in existence that is not integrated on a national level. Their chant blatantly uncovers their ignorance of even their own organization.
    Clearly you are a shining example of why the Greek community still thrives on so many campuses of HIGHER EDUCATION institutions across our nation. Unfortunately, the media in our nation lacks concern to promote the positive and seemingly works to exploit the ignorant by focusing on the negative making it appear more prevalent than it truly is.
    Thank you for your courage, clarity, and commitment to shining the light of a more realistic perspective on this issue and bringing it to the public. Best wishes to you in your future endeavors.

  88. Mr. Speller,

    This is a beautifully written and I applaud you for taking such a rational and even-handed approach to an incredibly repulsive situation. I hope that you, along with the rest of the Greek community, are able to show your university and the nation that the hurtful acts of few can be overcome by continued acts of compassion and understanding, which embody the spirit of human equality, and a peaceful yet firm stance that consequences exist for each persons individual actions. In Chi Omega, it is high praise for a sister to be told that she embodies the Symphony, which reads in part, “to choose thoughtfully, that course which occasion and conscious demand.” You sir, have done just that and I thank you on behalf of the Greek community.

    Best regards,
    Alissa Castro
    Chi Omega (Psi Epsilon- Arizona State University, 2008)

  89. This and the shooting last night of the 2 officers is the work by few misguided stupid people. It is the work of outsiders who want there 5 minutes of faime..I know of the good work that you all do. I am a long time Scouter and you very seldom hear of the good work that is done, you only hear of the bad and the liberial news media spreads it nation wide. Thank you do for the many students at O U.

  90. Although I can’t speak from the perspective of being a minority in a predominantly White sorority or fraternity at OU, I will say this. I know several individuals, including myself, who have been called racial slurs at fraternity houses. I remember, my freshman year, being called the ‘n’ word at a fraternity house. I also have friends who can share the same experiences. I don’t believe that all individuals in Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council Greek organizations at OU are racists or bad people. In fact, Greek organizations on campus do great things for the community, Sooneraton being one great example. However, I will say that there are individuals who are racists (whether they are caught or not, whether they say racial slurs around their fellow sorority/fraternity sisters and brothers or behind their backs) within these organizations. There are also individuals in other organizations who discriminate against minorities as well. The experience shared in this article is from one student’s perspective (which I’m glad has been a great one), but when an entire group of African American and minority students can testify to being discriminated on campus (inside and outside of houses belonging to Greek organizations) and not feeling valued, there is obviously a bigger issue that needs to be addressed and corrected. I don’t believe that it’s okay to fight hate with hate, and in fact, I disagree with the individuals who vandalized the house and cars. However, who’s to say that those individuals weren’t from other Pan/IFC sororities and fraternities (I haven’t read any information confirming whether or not the individuals were caught)? We need to look at this situation from all angles. While I am glad that the racists in the video were handled, it’s not about shutting down racists. It’s about deconstructing racism as a whole. This starts with education. Each of us needs to take the initiative to educate ourselves and correct (not simply punish) others when they discriminate. Let’s also not forget how individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ within sororities and fraternities could also be discriminated against. I can’t speak on the experiences of individuals within the LGBTQ+ community, but I know there are stories that can be shared. We need to work on changing our vocabulary and eliminating hate speech that offends all people.

    Sincerely,

    Ashley Hale

  91. I don’t think anyone thinks that the entire university is racist. Rather, we’re horrified that shit like this continues to happen in institutions across the country. Its also likely that your personal experience with frats does not speaks for every person of color. It’s wonderful that you feel accepted, but many people don’t. It’s naïve to think that OU or our nation is post-racial, and the recent events prove that. Your letter is missing any mention of structural racism, the root cause behind incidents like this. This is NOT an isolated event. Similar things continue to happen in universities across the country, and that’s worth examining.

  92. Great and powerful response! Greek life has been an intregal part of my life always influencing my journey in a positive and supportive direction. It revolves around love, honor, and truth to this day. The Greek experience has assisted many of our leaders from Presidents, Corporate Executives to Educational Supporters, and beyond. Philanthropic endeavers by the Greek community should be applauded loudly as we remain committed to a life-time of service. Most importantly, it has provided us with a family of friends for life. Let’s keep this discussion going and share our great experiences with the media and social networks. It’s time to stop punishing the whole for a few…

  93. Dear Tyrone,

    What a wonderful attitude you have. I grew up in Tulsa and my whole family went to OU, and I was raised going to OU games from a very young age. While I attended college in MA, it saddened me deeply to see these immature and intolerant people spew their ignorance. You lifted my heart and spirit up when I read your perspective. I wish you every joy in life, which I am sure you will have with such a blessed personality and love for life.

    Best wishes!
    Stephanie

  94. Thank you for writing this Tyrone. I was president of my sorority at Emory University (1991-2), and I agree with you that knee-jerk reactions to paint all Greek members as the same will not help anyone. Issues of racism, sexism, bullying, alcohol abuse are societal problems that sometimes are manifested in the context of fraternities and sororities. It is too easy to think that ending Greek Life will solve these societal ills.

    Keep up your great work. I can tell you from experience that the friends you have made through Phi Delta Theta will be your friends for life.

    Anne Leader,
    Alpha Delta Pi, Delta Alpha Chapter, 1989-92

  95. Well stated. You are an inspiration not only for your generation but for the generations before you. Narrow mindedness knows no age, “color, creed, sexual orientation…”. Sadly, by fighting hatred with hatred, those who deserve punishment have had their emotional burden lightened as they now have an avenue to lash out again. No, the incident was not acceptable on any level but the news and the general public (to include the OU student body) need to stand back and let the offenders own their behavior. Justice will be served but there need not be this public and media maelstrom to facilitate it.

    Second note, BRAVO to Greek Life at OU for such an amazing philanthropic event!!! As you stated, this is what everyone should be focusing on right now.

  96. An eloquent and thoughtful reply to the negative and divisive approach by the media. The fraternity system can be a very positive place for individuals of various cultures to get to know and appreciate each other in a close and supportive environment. I’m glad the experience has been a positive one for you and you were courageous enough to take a positive stand in this unfortunate matter. I wish you well in the future.

    Carter Stack

  97. I think that the author of this article, Tyrone Speller, has written an accurate and insightful piece about the recent incident at OU. In my experience in dealing with not only Greek organizations, but college students in general, I have found them to be quite with all minorities, whether they be black, Hispanic, Oriental, or what have you. And I think society wants minorities to succeed as well (something you won’t read about in the New York Times) – it is a win win for everyone if minorities are educated, find good jobs, pay taxes, and live as good citizens. It doesn’t make sense to wish failure on any minority group, because it doesn’t bode well for the country, as we have observed in the past, and I am sure most Americans would agree with my logic.

  98. Mr. Speller, thank you for your courage in speaking out during this difficult time. Your beautifully composed letter speaks to reason and to adherence to high standards. Each of us should strive to emulate your philosophy and behavior.
    As an alumnus of Sigma Nu Fraternity at the University of Houston, I serve my fraternity as the President of the Alumni Association, Vice President of the Home Association, and a member of Zeta Chi’s Alumni Advisory Board. I am proud to tell you that the men of Zeta Chi are a very diverse group, much more than when I was an active in the 1970’s. I believe I speak for all of my brothers, both alumni and actives, to extend our heartfelt thanks for your calm voice of reason following the unfortunate incidents at OU.

  99. I doubt anyone would deny the congratulations that Brother Tyrone Speller deserves for being elected president of the Oklahoma Alpha chapter of Phi Delta Theta. The actives have demonstrated that they trust Tyrone to lead them.

    Maybe it is asking too much of a young man that he know that the correct terminology is sexual orientation. Or that he be aware that electing an African-American to be president of an organization does not necessarily mean the organization is free of racist, homophobic, and mysoginist views. Or that he understand the necessity to have programs in place to educate both undergraduate and alumnI “members for life” about these issues.

    For better or worse, the Greek system is perceived to be racist and homophobic. It does little good to say “no we aren’ because I say we aren’t.” Perception matters. I would like to know how Oklahoma Alpha educates its members on the moral necessity to be inclusive and accepting. I would like to know the chapter’s policy about racist and homophobic behavior. What happens if a member engages in that? Surely an organization that professes to be inclusive and accepting already has policies and educstional programs in place.

    I know from painful personal experience that many, if not most, Oklahoma Alpha members from the late 1970s and early 1980s were exceedingly racist, homophobic, and mysoginist. Even against their own brothers. I am not satisfied with mere statements from the current undergraduate members that “we are not like that anymore.” I need proof through deeds and actions, not defensive generalities.

    Yours in the Bond,
    George Reynolds
    Oklahoma Alpha, #1446
    1976-80

  100. I have never been more proud to by a Phi and to call this young man a Brother, well said sir

    Rob Nixon
    SHSU 94

  101. Dear Tyrone-

    Your incredible letter moved me to respond. For the record, I am a proud member SAE from Iowa Delta (Drake University) and graduated in 1977. I live in OKC and have a daughter who is graduating from OU in May. Like everyone, I am shocked and disgusted by the actions of the OU SAE’s and believe this was NOT an isolated incident. While I am not an OU graduate or originally from Oklahoma, this entire situation has shaken me to the core. From a national perspective, the actions and beliefs of this fraternity house have put an ugly stain on the State of Oklahoma, the University, all OU and national fraternities and sororities, and of course, my fraternity SAE.

    I wanted to write to make sure that while we both agree there truly was a cancerous belief imbedded within the OU SAE house, it is NOT something that exists in most other SAE chapters across our country and definitely not something that exists at the national level. I have visited our national office at Northwestern University many times and have personally known many of our national leaders over the years. Like Phi Delta Theta, we believe in teaching our members the values of being outstanding men and good citizens of the world. Our beliefs are reflected in our creed “The True Gentleman” just as yours are in your belief… “the cultivation of friendship among its members, the acquirement individually of a high degree of mental culture, and the attainment personally of a high standard of morality”.

    I have many friends who are Phi Delts and they, like me, would be very proud of how you and your brothers have addressed this terrible situation. I have a son who may be attending OU next year. I would have loved for him to be an SAE and continue the legacy, but given the situation that will never happen. If he does attend OU, I will encourage him to look closely at Phi Delta Theta and your members.

    Thank you again for your thoughtful words!

    Best regards,
    John E. Wehde
    SAE, Iowa Delta-’77
    jwehde@hotmail.com

  102. Thank you, Tyrone. Well said. Your brothers around the country continue to be proud of our greek heritage and Phi Delta Theta in particular. Well done, brother.

  103. As the father of a Phi Delta Theta alumnus from the University of the Pacific and of a freshman Phi Delta Theta at the University of Nevada, I was saddened and sickened by the actions of a few idiots within the Greek life at OU. I am proud of what the Greek life did for my oldest son and is now doing for my youngest. Thank you Mr. Speller for your fine words of encourage to us all. Boomer Sooner.

    Mike Fletcher

  104. Tyrone,
    Well stated! This should be a learning experience for everyone. You have done yourself, the Phi Delts, the Greek system, OU & our entire society PROUD.
    Larry Schreiner
    ΣX
    University of Nebraska ’70

  105. I was outraged by the actions of the SAE boys but, like you, knew those hateful idiots didn’t represent the Greeks or OU. This is the most thoughtful, insightful, and honest statement I have read! Thank you, Tyrone! I am going to be looking for your name in the future. You are an articulate and honorable person.
    ’65 OU alum,
    Betsy

  106. Tyrone-
    My son, Andrew Youngerman, is pledging Phi Delta Theta this semester and you should know how proud I am he’s chosen to affiliate with a leader such as you. I am sure the rest of the fraternity follows your lead of character and wisdom beyond your years. Your message was remarkably written, the tone was appropriately firm, and you have my sympathy’s with being put in a position where you feel the need to “balance” two key components of your person. It’s obvious to me you see the small and big picture equally well and I’d encourage you to take a broader leadership role in the solution both locally and nationally. Granted, you didn’t ask to be put in this awkward position but your duel perspective can go a long ways towards the correct solutions. To say the least, you are a very impressive man.
    Very Best Wishes-David Youngerman

  107. A rational and intelligent response to a stupid action by a group of fraternity members. This is so much better a response for young blacks, in high school or before, to see that the world is not totally against them, which is a message that tells them to not try because they can’t win. The gentleman that wrote this is of a similar mind to the black guys I knew and was friends with back in college many, many years ago, and that I worked with and for (my boss was a black for many years) – and that is do your thing and reality does exist outside of those who only see skin color.

  108. What a beautifully written and heartfelt piece. Tyrone, you are a wise and a fine leader and representative of Phi Delta Theta. The message to fraternity members of all organizations should be – treat all human beings with respect. The message to some of the media should be that damning “Greeks” or (all) “fraternities” for the OU SAE action is itself a form of discrimination.

  109. I am a parent of a Phi Delta Theta freshman and am a Pi Kapp Phi Alumni. This letter was encouraging to me as a parent. I wish all fraternities and Phi Delta Theta Chapters could actively integrate their Chapters like OU Phi Delta Theta has. I think the President and General Council’s letter was somewhat silent on this. It’s time that all Greek Organizations stress the character of the member not the color of the skin. The OU chapter obviously leads out on this. My son’s chapter is very culturally diverse but does not have any African American brothers which makes me at least question whether racism festers unseen either. We are definitely having the conversation. Thanks again for sending this out and keeping parents informed.

  110. Brother Tyrone,
    Your words have reassured me that your generation has not digressed in their beliefs about acceptance and equality. I hope your letter inspires a further outpouring of positive testimonials from your peers and fellow students.
    Yours in the bond
    Bruce McLinn
    Oklahoma Alpha #1392

  111. Dear Brother Speller,
    Great letter and well presented arguments in favor of Greek life. I remember a similar episode at UNM when I was an undergraduate, another fraternity did a skit that was very degrading to women and immediately there was a call to ban all fraternities from campus and label all members as sexist pigs. I remember groups marching down fraternity row and chanting “Frat Free by 93″… Anyhow, stick to your principles and your message and this to shall pass.

    Yours in the Bond
    Tony Gonzales
    New Mexico Alpha #641

  112. Mr. Tyrone Speller,

    You bring up a lot of valuable points. I also appeciate your letter and highlighting the points that OU is not a racist intitution, I agree it is not. That the media has ignored the retalitions you all have faced since the breaking and probably before the story came to be. It is times like these, that should make a Brotherhood or Sisterhood stronger. There will always be people out there that are going to hate, smear, and degrade your name. There will always be retaliation. These seem to be the lot in life of a few people. Let that be their problem. Keep holding your head high sir, for that is the more professional way of handling such an issue. Brotherhood and Sisterhoods like the Greek Community are apart of makes a Unverisity strong. Yet we must also keep in mind, that Universities in the past have faced these kinds of challenges, more then enough times. In the end its what defines them when the dust settles. Only then we see how truly strong a University is. I must leave you with this quote. “No matter how loud the wind howls, the mountain shall not bow to it.” Quirky, and from Mulan?? Yet it is a true statement, with an even truer meaning. Be the Mountain!!!

    With High Regards,

    Kent

  113. Tyrone this is an outstanding message that is needed at this point in time. Thank you for your comments. I’m proud to be a Phi and proud that you are a Phi.

  114. Tyrone and the Phi Delta Theta Chapter at OU, I just read your extremely impressive response to the unfortunate events that have occurred this week at the University of Oklahoma. Your positive words definitely carry weight. Hopefully, those in the national media will realize that the despicable acts of a few are definitely not a fair representation of our great school, and especially not of OU’s strong Greek system. I graduated from OU in 1980 and served on the IFC while I was a student. While I was there I developed numerous life long friendships with men and women from many of the Greek houses. Tyrone, I applaud your strong and bold actions, you are a true Sooner! Please keep up the good work. -Mike Matthews (Dallas, Texas)

  115. Tyrone,
    I’d like to compliment you on a very well written letter and for your willingness to stand up for an institution that has
    obviously helped shape you into an articulate, open minded young man. While I find the act of this small group deplorable, although one-sided, the media coverage has helped call attention to what is likely a widespread problem. However, I agree that fighting hate with hate is a no-win and doesn’t serve to bridge the gap between racist students and those that were verbally attacked. One thing I’d like to point out – in your effort to speak out about bigotry and non-discrimination by the system of which you are a part , you refer ‘sexual preference’ instead of ‘sexual identity’ – an important distinction as we continue to fight for equal acceptance and rights for all people. Perhaps it was an oversight but I thought it important to mention.

  116. Intelligence prevails in times of crisis. You are a leader in tough times. You have my support. Yours in the Bond, Tom Atkinson, Texas Delta

  117. well done, Mr. Speller……I am now a new fan….thank you for expressing a voice of reason. Your most recent admirer, M. Smith ….Alpha Sigma Tau…..SOSU….class of 1970

  118. Brother Tyrone,
    Your words were eloquent, deliberate and extremely accurate. And just as the media forgot to give all of the story, unfortunately they will forget your words too. As a proud Phi, I am just incredibly proud of you, your OU chapter and Phis all over the nation. Thank you!
    Yours in the Bond,
    D.I. McIntosh
    Idaho Alpha #1283

  119. The support you have described in your frat is what should exist. There are “bad apples” everywhere and part of maturing is to stand up for what you believe when someone is inappropriate.

  120. Known Fact; If one consumes too much alcohol, they are almost certain
    to make an “Ass” of themselves!

    1. Thank you for expressing your thoughts so eloquently on this situation, Tyrone. Your words show you are a man of great character and wisdom far beyond your years. I have no doubt your fellow Phi Delta Thetas are proud to call you their brother and OU students are proud to have you as a fellow student. I have a number of family members and friends who are SAE alums, some of whom pledged at OU in the 1980s. They are unbelievably disappointed and saddened by this situation. Not sure where the young men in the video came up with such vile words, but I can assure everyone that in my relatives’ and friends’ day, this kind of garbage would not fly. I hope that others watching the news reports will see the young men in the video as the ignorant idiots that they are and not take them to be an accurate representation of OU, the SAE fraternity or the Greek community as a whole. Thanks again for your eloquent response, Tyrone, and I wish you all the success in the world. Boomer Sooner!

  121. This is a very well said article and should be read by all – including those who want to turn OU into another Ferguson.

  122. That is an eloquent statement, Tyrone! As an OU alum of a Greek sorority, I completely agree with you.

  123. Well Said!
    Proud to be your Brother!!!
    YitB,

    Tino Fernandez
    FLK #42

  124. Well done young man!! You wrote an impassioned
    letter and represented your school with dignity.
    “A retired English teacher”

  125. Well said Brother. Hopefully people will realize the good of the Greek system, and stop judging by the actions of these “immature children”. Lead the fight. We are alongside. Proud to be your Brother. Proud to be a Phi. YitB
    Art Nauman Bond #11
    Florida Kappa
    FIU ’89

  126. Thank you Tyrone! Well written !
    Sincerely,
    The Mom of a Member of the OU Greek system

  127. so very well states. My mother always said to “set an example” and that is just what you are doing. Your parents should be very proud of the young man you are and hopefully sooner (no pun intended) rather than later we will all be able to live and love in harmony. Then our world will be even better.

    1. Just as the reports of the reprehensible behavior of the few shamefully reminded me of the ignorance rampant on campus in the early ’60s, your response heartens me at the progress that it represents. In 27 years in the Marine Corps, I had occasion to reject old prejudices and to learn from the diverse friendships that I experienced over time. Thanks.
      Sigma Nu, OU Delta Epsilon Chapter 1014
      BA ’63, JD ’65

  128. While this article is poised, I do notice a glaring mark on SAE as a whole, and failing to distinguish one chapter, or a few members, as representing this incident. As a greek woman with hundreds of chapters displaying her letters, the repeated outcry against Sigma Alpha Epsilon (as opposed to SAE – xx), feels contrary to the point of this article embracing the Greek community.

  129. Mr. Speller,

    I am so moved and impressed by your message. It is very powerful, and offers a perspective which is so important There must be zero tolerance for racism, anti-Semitism or any negative stereotyping in our Institutions and society. Equally important is your message that we must caution against letting the inexcusable actions of a few people negate the positives of OU, and of Greek life in general. It is disappointing that thoughtful perspectives like yours often do not reach a broad audience. I hope that you will Release your statement to national media so that a large and diverse audience can hear your eloquent words. You are a wonderful role model to all of us.

    Thank you for your leadership,

    Mary Lee Broder
    Proud mother of a Phi Delt son

  130. Thank you for your articulate message. I am a University of Oregon graduate. The national news of the chanting, etc., gave me the impression that University of Oklahoma is a most horrible place to attend college. Your article helps balance the picture. I am so grateful to have been born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where there there was no Civil War history or culture to carry on for generations of bigotry and civil rights violations. I don’t relate to or understand the white people who live in the South. From what I have seen in the media, the people of color in your University are sophisticated, articulate, and focused on scholarly pursuits on average. Good for you!

  131. Well said! I’m proud of you, Tyrone. Thanks for your eloquence.

    YITB,
    Wally Evans
    PDT
    Tennessee Beta, 1987

  132. What a wonderful response to the situation at OU. It makes me so proud of my fraternity. Please know that your Brothers young and old support you.
    Yours in the Bond
    M Haugh
    Mo. Beta 59

  133. Tyrone,
    What a wonderful letter and comment on the recent OU events. Yes, I agree we do need to concentrate on the right things; however, as a white lady that grew up in the 60s when civil right was the plate at our dinner table let me say one more thing to you. We cannot ignore or excuse this type of behavior. What happens so very often when these events pop up is they punish the person that violates but ignores the perpetrator that created the situation in the first place. This song was taught as a part of this frat’s Greek life. It was acceptable – why and who made it acceptable? Today we often face racism that is couched in hidden words and actions. Many people are too stupid to even recognize it when it happens so they are SHOCKED when someone mentions that it is offensive. We need to educate ourselves and learn the true meaning of accepting our fellow man and live with tolerance. I am sorry to say that we have a ways to go in that department.
    No , OU isn’t the only place where unacceptable things happen like this but you have a very rich opportunity to make an object lesson out this wrong behavior. Your letter defended the school now take it one step further and take the initiative to enter into discussions on acceptance and tolerance. I encourage you to take the discussions beyond your campus. Use your fraternity’s platform to raise the level of discourse and find the reason for the hate that has pervaded your campus and very often our nation. Our nation’s capitol needs to have this discussion as well. Many of our congressmen and women engage in hate talk and action. WHY? Perhaps through you, our youth, we will find a solution to our intolerance and hate and stop hiding behind rhetoric that says one thing but is couched in hidden meanings that is none the less racism and intolerance .

    Verneene Forssberg

  134. Brother Speller, like you I am proud to be a Phi! I was a member of Georgia Gamma at Mercer in 1985 when we voted to accept members of any creed. Ours was the first fraternity to “integrate” on our campus and I believe in the organization. We felt that a man should be as Dr. King put it “judged by the quality of his character.” I was proud to have a small part in making that happen. We took a lot of grief from other Greek organizations on our campus, but we knew what we did was right. It was sad to see the poor example set by the few members of that other fraternity on your campus. I know people like that exist in all walks of life, not just that isolated incident, but through courage and leadership that we gain from our time in Phi Delta Theta, perhaps we can continue making a difference in our communities and make them better places for the future. I am proud to call you my brother in the bond and Proud to be a PHI!!! YITB, GA Gamma – 1201.

  135. Nicely done.
    Y.I.T.B
    Bond #1580
    University of Oklahoma
    Oklahoma Alpha ’86

  136. Tyrone,

    I appreciate your point of view. I recently read the following and thought that you might consider it in your future thinking as well, especially as it is written by someone from the OU community.

    I am not religious at all, but see the great good in this writer’s logic and humanity. I wish that the OU leaders had considered her approach before casting your fellow Greeks adrift from their world.

    Best regards,

    Angus Wynne
    Dallas, TX
    wynent@mac.com

  137. Brother Tyrone –
    You make me proud to be a Phi.

    YITB –
    Scott Piper
    Kansas Alpha #1402

  138. Thank you Tyrone for you comments. They show true leadership.
    Kristin Hincke
    Alpha Gamma chapter of Alpha Chi Omega ’87

  139. Mr. Speller,
    Thank you for writing this letter.
    I, for one, will be sharing it with others.
    You write in clear, concise, well thought out sentences – and have gotten your point across eloquently.
    Thank you for taking the time to stand up for what is right an chastise those who chose to do wrong.
    You and your Greek brothers are this Country’s future and I am glad to know you are there.
    Continued success to you in your future endeavors.
    Jeanie Edwards – Pasadena CA

  140. Brother Tyrone,

    It makes me extremely proud to see a fellow brother taking a stand against the misrepresentation of our greek communities by the general public. As you may know the Clemson greek community has also received its share of bad press this year. It is tough to show how the mistakes of one chapter does not represent IFC as a whole. It will undoubtedly be an up hill battle but I am confident you are the kind of leader your community needs to carry them through these troubling times.

    Yours in the Bond,

    ‘893’ Sean M. Osler
    Phi Delta Theta Chapter Vice President
    South Carolina Gamma, Clemson University

  141. thank you so much for being an agent of healing! Thank you for your heart and your wise leadership. With more people like you, we can be a much better people collectively. Thank you and God bless you!

  142. Reading your letter last night was a much needed breath of fresh air. I keep going back to it today to re-read. As a recent alumna of the Upsilon chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta and a current Sooner graduate student, I find my personal opinions on this week’s events mirror many of the things you had to say, especially with regards to omnipresent negative media coverage of this story as well as Greek Life across the country and the media’s blatant blind eye to all the good that comes out of being Greek. Congratulations on Soonerthon! What an amazing accomplishment for everyone involved!

    I appreciate your resolve to speak publicly and hope that this will start a conversation of how to move forward and repair the damage done in order to rise stronger than ever before.

    All the best,
    Elizabeth Peterson
    Kappa Alpha Theta – Upsilon
    University of Minnesota ’12
    Norman, OK

  143. Brother Tyrone,

    This letter is a powerful one, well written, and eloquently put. People like you make me continue to be damn proud to be a Phi. Men such as yourself, and other excellent fraternity leaders are why the Greek system continues to be a proud pillar in many communities on many college campuses. Hopefully you and your fellow brothers, as well as all of those in the Greek community in Norman can help shed light on what Greek life is truly all about, and prove that those who do reprehensible acts such as the ones committed by this chapter of SAE are outliers, and do not represent the standard and moral rectitude that the rest of us in the Greek community stand for.

    Yours in the Bond,
    Tad Hall 1864
    Iowa Beta ’13

  144. I was President of the Delta Sigma Phi chapter at the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1972. Our social fraternity was one of twenty social fraternities on campus. I’d like to help you defend the Greek system at O.U. If you want my help. Sincerely, Hans K. Schmoldt

  145. Mr. Speller,

    I loved your message and I think it is an important one. I did however, want to make one point. You mentioned that you were a member of the “African American Student Body”. I believe words matter so I would’ve said an “African American member of the Student Body”. This places what you have in common with others over what you have different. I believe racism exists because people focus on what makes us different vs. was makes us the same.

    Again, you words were well-thought and well-spoken. I appreciate your effort and your cause. My message is not meant to take away from that – but rather to show the world that most of us (myself included) don’t realize that unity is most important, while respecting and honoring diversity at the same time.

    Thanks,

    Thomas M Dayton
    PSI PHI DELTA
    SUNY Potsdam 1993

  146. Well said, Tyrone! Thanks for sharing a view of the Greek Community at OU that we are not seeing in the news coverage.

  147. Brother Speller,
    I personally want to thank you for your measured and mature comments on the situation at OU. I wish you and your chapter continued success. You make me proud to be a PHI.
    Dr. Frank Morris, AL Alpha ’73
    President, AL Alpha Inc. house corp.

  148. What a great letter. Please send it to the greater media, CNN,, MSNBC, Fox, etc. All of us who had the good fortune to be associated with a fraternity have enjoyed the benefit of growth and discipline as young men. We make the choice during a rush period as to which fraternity we would like to join, if invited. I am proud of you all.
    Ryvers G. Reeder
    Beta Kappa of Sigma Chi ’57
    University of Oklahoma

  149. As a member of the Greek community and an alumni volunteer, this letter is encouraging. You letter reminds us of who a lot of us are and some need to be. To quote a brother of mine whose joined chapter eternal, “Let us be what we say we are: a fraternity, not a club, run by men, not boys, and based on ideals, not expediency.” – Ralph “Dud” Daniel, Executive Director Emeritus of Phi Kappa Psi.
    I also want to place the 3rd paragraph of our creed in these comments “I believe that to all I meet, wherever I go, I represent not only Phi Kappa Psi, but indeed the spirit of all fraternities; thus I must ever conduct myself so as to bring respect and honor not to myself alone, but also to my Fraternity;”
    You sir, live up to these 2 thoughts. Keep up the good work and thanks for reminding us what fraternity is.
    Cord Nuoffer
    Phi Kappa Psi
    IN-E ‘96
    Valparaiso University

  150. My late husband was a member of Beta Theta Pi at Georgia Tech. When he was ill with brain cancer the outpouring of love and support that we received from his brothers helped us get through this very difficuot time. He was 47 when he was diagnosed. It truly sickens me how the media and those who are not familar with the value of Greek life while in college and after graduation are so quick to bash fraternities and sororities. Yes, there are always bad apples in any organization but please don’t discredit the entire group. Tyrone, this is a wonderful letter you have shared and I hope it gets the press it deserves.

  151. I want to start out by saying thank you for your encouraging words, all of this is publicity is making much worse and I don’t agree with the people who are slashing tires etc for “revenge.” However I believe and note I’m stating my personal opinion, that everyone is missing the big picture on SAE. Those boys I highly doubt came up with that chant on their own. Fraternity roots run deep and this is a nationwide fraternity. Fraternities are known to be secretive, I don’t believe this just happens at OU. I believe it’s something in SAE a skeleton in their closet per sae. I’m not saying all members of SAE are racist, but the fraternity leader itself are corrupt and try to pass it down, as quietly as possible. They are now suing out of fear because they know nothing else to do, more videos, etc will likely surface from other SAE fraternities, that is why they are going for the freedom of speech method. They are scared, they see a storm coming and are trying to save face. My personal opinion on predominantly the heads of this what I believe to be corrupt fraternity. I hope the root of it is exposed and yanked out. Always look at the bigger picture, it may seem far fetched, but I’ve learned your usually correct. Narrow minded thinking gets you nowhere, find the root and deal with THEM. The students were strongly influenced, by the fraternity itself. Like I said just my opinion.

  152. I could use a lot of flowery words but I will be brief and simple. Thank you!

  153. Thank you Tyrone for such a heartfelt and thoughtful comment. Well spoken and written with much for each and every one of us to think about and not just react to the narrow-mindedness of a few young students. I certainly hope and believed that we had gotten past such behavior.

  154. I don’t believe I have ever been more proud to be a Phi!

    Thank You Brother Speller!

    Dave Kovacovich
    Phi Delta Theta Educational Committee
    Arizona State ’97

  155. Thank you for this! People tend to focus on the negative and completely ignore the positives! Especially when it comes to the Greek Community!!!

  156. I love and appreciate your response. You beautifully sum up what I’m sure many Greeks are thinking about the matter. It always makes me sick when I hear about something dumb that a member(s) of the Greek community did because it inevitably stains the entire system, which already has more that it’s fair share of being mocked and portrayed in negative light from Hollywood. I believe those stereotypes are typically furthered by people who were likely never in a sorority or fraternity and therefore have no clue what they’re talking about. While many probably think of the Greek community as drunken fraternity parties and pillow fights there is so much more. The Greek system promotes scholarship by awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to students across the nation and by requiring a minimum GPA be maintained to retain membership (and many times it’s higher than the school average), it promotes philanthropy and giving back and provides members the opportunity to do so (most Greek organizations have a national cause that all the chapters support), it provides leadership opportunities and development of members (over 85% of the student leaders are involved in the Greek community) and those students go on to leadership roles in after college. These are just a few of the good attributes of the Greek system, but there are many more. There are 750,000 undergraduate members in 12,000 chapters on more than 800 campuses in the USA and Canada (123 fraternities and sororities with 9 million members total) and it only took a small handful to make us all look like jerks. Just as there are bad police offices, bad doctors, bad teachers there are bad Greek community members among us who do stupid things, but that doesn’t mean everyone in the system condones those actions or is like minded.

  157. I am an SAE and I am deeply saddened by those immature and stupid actions of the OU freshmen. My adult son called to ask me if we sang that racist song when I was in college. I assured him I had never heard it or anything like it. Thanks to Tyrone Speller for his insight.

  158. Tyrone Speller, you are amazing. It is reassuring to read your letter. Thank you.
    Barbara Pack, KKG, Iota Chapter, DePauw University, Greencastle, IN

  159. Tyrone,
    What a blessing to have you shed some light during this dark time. I’m still proud that I was a member of the Greek system at OU and I’m so glad you painted a picture of what most of us remember. Thank you!!
    Ashlee Byram – Kappa Kappa Gamma 2000

  160. Good for you Mr, Speller. I am so glad to read about a brother Phi stepping forward and sharing with the world that things are not always as they seem. I further appreciate your passion for the University and your concern for the Greek system. It was great to read that you believe any ill feelings a person has about this situation need to be directed at the individuals responsible and not at the Oklahoma University Greek Community. Thank you for coming forward. It makes me proud to say that I am a member of Phi Delta Theta from the Oklahoma Alpha Chapter.
    Yours in the Bond,
    Chris Marshall
    Oklahoma Alpha 1372

  161. Tyrone thank you for your honest comments. People can misunderstand Greek Life in general but when you add other factors such as race, sexuality or anything similar, it become even more heated. I admire you for speaking out about your personal conflict and your Greek experience.

  162. Fantastic article! There are a few things that, coming from an Arkansas public and private school background, haven’t been brought up in any of the articles that I have read over the last week. Do we really think these kids are racists? I don’t. Not because I don’t think what they said is awful and completely stupid, but I don’t believe that it comes from a hate for black people. It’s a chant, that they heard somewhere back, that they think sounds cool, and so what they shouted it. Why let something so little as a group of guys on a bus chanting racial things get to you? Is that not where the ignorance truly lies? Maybe one or two of the kids claims to dislike black people when he gets drunk, but he’s just lying to himself. The truth is, the social status hasn’t changed much over the years and so I think it causes frustration, which in turn leads to blame.

  163. Mr. Spiller,

    You are a man of unmatched integrity and honesty. You are a credit to the Oklahoma Greek Organization.

    Jim June
    Sigma Chi
    Beta Kappa ’74

  164. Brother Speller, as a Phi Alum and a African-American. I am very proud of you and your brothers that you took the time and made the effort in talking about your chapter and your school. Being a Phi has been a great part of my life, not just socially but many of my business ties and relationships have occurred because of pledging Phi Delta Theta so many years ago at Oregon Gamma. The friendships that have endured over these years are ones I cherish and I look forward to staying touch with my brothers. Thank you and your brothers for taking a stand, it shows that you all know the historical value of brotherhood.

    Yours In the Bond, 676,

    Ron Jordan
    Oregon Gamma
    Cal Alpha

  165. I absolutely can NOT understand the use of violence against others when someone makes a fool of themselves. This young handsome young man on the video has for all practical purposes ruined his life. He should be punished. I will not quote exactly but the Bible tells me to: Those of you who are perfect cast the first stone. Also, remove the beam from your own eye etc. These whites, blacks whatever color who feel they have to do these things to get revenge are not people who I would want to be friends of mine. I am an Oklahoma State person. We’ve always been able to get and tease each other and have never had to be violent to do this. I even resent the chants at some of the games. When I lived in Stillwater we had season tickets to every game that was played anywhere. Carry on OU–Be Proud.

  166. Well said! I am an Alpha Phi alum from Cal State Long Beach. My husband is a Sigma Chi from USC and our daughter is a Gamma Phi Beta at Chapman University. Our views as greeks do not reflect the views of a few small minded “boys” at OU. Our nephew is a Sigma Alpha Epsilon in Colorado and his views do not reflect the views of the few SAEs at OU! Hang in there!

  167. Beta Theta Pi , Oklahoma State Chapter , 1997

    Thank you , Brother Speller!

  168. Great comments, Tyrone. I’m a Lambda Chi from the University of Florida, and I’m
    really glad to see your leadership at OK. Hopefully our chapter at OK is supportive
    of you. I posted your letter on my Facebook profile and thanks for speaking up. This kind
    of behavior needs to come to an end.

  169. Ty: My friend Joe Kernke forwarded your posting to me. First of all, I ask your forgiveness for the words and intent of some very misguided men in SAE. Their actions are disgusting and reprehensible. I, and many others, are truly ashamed of what has happened. Reconciling the division and the pallour cask on the Greek community we all love will take time, honesty, and a willingness to learn from this mistake. The media attention and angry voices will not mend broken relatioinships. Thank you speaking out. Phi Delta Theta is blessed to have a young man like you in leadership.
    Best regards,
    Hal Clifford
    SAE, OU 1965

  170. Brother Speller,
    I am just now seeing this. Well done, my Brother. I’ve never been more proud to be a Phi. All for one and one for all.
    YITB,
    Cooper Castleberry 222
    Stephen F. Austin ’73

  171. Very well written.

    Thank you

    West Michigan Regional Director of Sigma Chi

    Chris Nyers

  172. As a former sorority president, I am deeply grateful for you rising above this horrible set of circumstances and providing an insightful commentary. Kudos to you and to Greeks everywhere who contribute so much both during their college years and after. You are a shining example of what is right with our world.

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