Comedian Will Ferrell said last week he felt controversy surrounding a racist chant among members of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is cause for schools to consider doing away with the campus organizations altogether.
The New York Times prepared a series of reader-generated questions for the SNL alum to answer last week at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX. On location with fellow comedian Kevin Hart to promote the upcoming film Get Hard, Ferrell sat down to answer questions about his career.
A Times reader asked: “Will, we are fraternity brothers of Delta Tau Delta, albeit different chapters and years. The recent awful situation with SAE has brought out the “frat haters” in droves. Could you comment on your own fraternity experience and why (or why not) fraternity membership is still a worthy consideration for a college student?”
“The incident in Oklahoma, that is a real argument for getting rid of the system altogether, in my opinion, even having been through a fraternity,” Ferrell responded. “Because when you break it down, it really is about creating cliques and clubs and being exclusionary.
The Old School actor continued:
Fraternities were started as academic societies that were supposed to have a philanthropic arm to them. And when it’s governed by those kind of rules, then they’re still beneficial. But you gotta be careful. I was lucky in that the one I was in, we were really kind of the anti-fraternity fraternity. We were considered good enough to get the exchanges with the good sororities. We couldn’t get anyone to vote on anything, but if you needed 40 guys to show up and build a 20-foot-tall papier-mâchéversion of the Matterhorn, we were there and ready.
“But we didn’t take it too seriously,” he finished. “It was just about having fun. But I think it’s an interesting dilemma for universities these days.”
Members of Oklahoma’s SAE fraternity were caught on video earlier this month participating in a racially charged chant.
“There will never be a n****r in SAE,” members sang in unison, while also referencing lynching.
The University of Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon was quickly closed, and two of its members expelled by university head David Boren.