It is amazing the amount of angst that nine seconds of video can create in this age of going viral. I'm referring of course to the stories about the Oklahoma University members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon singing an extremely racist song. There are of course a large number of angles from which to view this. Probably the most important is the way it reflects on the persistence of racism. The song includes a favorable reference to lynching, which is one of my interests as an amateur historian.
As tax law professors, we naturally see solutions through the prism of the tax law. Policymakers often use the tax law to provide both carrots and sticks, encouraging certain societally beneficial behavior while deterring behavior we deem detrimental. With apparently endemic discrimination bubbling to the surface of Greek organizations, the tax law may be able to help nudge these organizations to either integrate or clearly signal their discriminatory tendency.
How can the tax law operate, then, to effect structural change? It can dangle the carrot of their tax exemption in front of them while, at the same time, threatening them with its loss if they do not eliminate discriminatory behavior. We would propose that the IRS begin sending letters to all Greek organizations putting them on notice that if they discriminate, their tax-exempt status will be revoked. They can retain their tax exemption if they demonstrate that they do not discriminate based on race. This provides Greek organizations with a choice. If they are willing to comply with the norms of society, then they can enjoy the benefit of their tax exemption. If they do not wish to conform, they can explicitly signal that desire by forgoing the public subsidy implicit in being exempt from taxation.
I'm not sure if I can legitimately debate you--I totally agree that this isn't the kind of thing that I really want the IRS to spend its resources on. Better would be the threat of IRS actions nudging frats out of their current inertia of only addressing racism when it becomes public. So my goal is self-regulation, under threat of IRS regulation.