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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Oklahoma University At The Center Of First Amendment Rights Violation Issue

Oklahoma University

(Photo : Wikipedia) Oklahoma University kicked out the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity because of a racist video.

The academic and legal communities have yet to hear the last word about the expulsion of the two students from Oklahoma University (OU) over their leading a racist song caught on video.

Many legal experts believe the outright dismissal of the freshman and sophomore students from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity could be legally challenged for violation of their constitutional right to free speech.

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Oklahoma University President David Boren gave the two students until the close of business hours on Friday to contest his decision to kick them out of the school for "leading a racist and exclusionary chant which has created a hostile educational environment for others," reports CNN.

Boren said there is no response yet from the two student. But CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin believes it could lead to a constitutional challenge, pointing out that "you may disapprove of what someone says but yu still defend their right to say it."

She said that since the two were students, they come from an educational system that seeks a heightened level of freedom of speech.

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of law school at the Univeristy of California, Irvine, agrees. He said that despite the odious words of the two students, they are protected by the guarantee of freedom of speech by the First Amendment.

Chemerinsky stressed the courts are clear that "hateful, racist speech" has protection from the First Amendment. However, he added that it could be legal to impose official punishment for speech if the chant was a direct threat and led a reasonable person to fear for his safety or if it provoked an immediate violent response.

The Oklahoma University case, according to experts, lacks evidence of direct threat or provocation. They added that since the university is publicly funded, it is subject to constitutional boundaries, reports the New York Times.

Because of the controversy generated by the OU frat's racist chant, Boren said on Wednesday that he would create the position of vice president for diversity. He is talking with an African-American candidate for the position. 

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