UPDATED, 9:55 a.m. EST, 3-11-15:
Two students expelled from the University of Oklahoma for playing a “leadership role” in a fraternity’s racist chant video that went viral have issued apologies, according to The Dallas Morning News.
One of the students, Parker Rice, 19, of Dallas, apologized in a statement released Tuesday by his father, Bob, saying the chant was taught to him as a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Brody and Susan Pettit issued an apology for their son, Levi, acknowledging that he made a mistake.
The Dallas Morning News reports:
“I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. It was wrong and reckless. I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same. On Monday, I withdrew from the university, and sadly, at this moment our family is not able to be in our home because of threatening calls as well as frightening talk on social media.
“I know everyone wants to know why or how this happened. I admit it likely was fueled by alcohol consumed at the house before the bus trip, but that’s not an excuse. Yes, the song was taught to us, but that too doesn’t work as an explanation. It’s more important to acknowledge what I did and what I didn’t do. I didn’t say no, and I clearly dismissed an important value I learned at my beloved high school, Dallas Jesuit. We were taught to be ‘Men for Others.’ I failed in that regard, and in those moments, I also completely ignored the core values and ethics I learned from my parents and others.
The Pettits, also from the Dallas-area, defended their son:
“As parents of Levi, we love him and care for him deeply,” says the statement, which has also been posted on this website. “He made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever. However, we also know the depth of our son’s character. He is a good boy, but what we saw in those videos is disgusting. While it may be difficult for those who only know Levi from the video to understand, we know his heart, and he is not a racist. We raised him to be loving and inclusive and we all remain surrounded by a diverse, close-knit group of friends.”
UPDATED, 2:20 p.m. EST, 3-10-15:
Howard Dixon, who worked for 15 years as a chef at the now-defunct Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house, says that while he considers the former chapter members to be family, he does not blame officials for taking action against them, Yahoo News reports. According to the news site:
“I think that was kind of stupid and selfish for them to do something like that,” Dixon told CBS News. “And knowing this is an organization that’s supposed to be about brotherhood. That wasn’t no brotherhood.”
He added: “There won’t be another job like this. This was one of a kind.”…
A crowdfunding campaign launched Monday by an SAE alum to help Dixon “land on his feet” has already raised more than $35,000.
UPDATED, 1:08 p.m. EST, 3-10-15:
Two University of Oklahoma students have been expelled after the president identified them as leaders in a racist chant video recorded at a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity event, according to KOCO TV. The TV news station reports:
University of Oklahoma President David Boren has expelled two students identified as leaders in a racist chant video recorded at an SAE fraternity event.
Boren said the students who played a leadership role had created a hostile learning environment for others.
Boren addressed a crowd of protestors on Monday, saying the sentiments in the video would not be tolerated at the University of Oklahoma. Boren also said the members of the fraternity have until midnight to get off campus.
The students’ names have not been released.
Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon House Mom Hurls N-Word
It would appear the recently discovered racist video chant by members of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is not an aberration. The college’s student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily, posted a Vine video late Monday that allegedly shows the frat’s house mother, Beauton Gilbow, 79, laughing while repeating the n-word at what appears to be a party. The newspaper identified Gilbow by comparing her Vine image to a photo on a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for her after the fraternity was shut down. The campaign page has since been removed. She told Oklahoma’s News 9 that she was shocked by the events that unfolded. Read more.
Black Fraternity Member Opens Up
William Bruce James II, who says he was the last Black Sigma Alpha Epsilon member at the University of Oklahoma, tells KFOR TV’s Linda Cavanaugh that he was stunned by the video, saying he never felt like his fraternity brothers were racist. “I never heard anything like that while I was there,” says James, who pledged 14 years ago. “My brothers wouldn’t have allowed it…. That song wouldn’t have been sung.” But he found it disturbing that current members in the video all appear to know the words to the offensive chant. Still, he says he has received an outpouring of support from his fraternity brothers. “They’re helping me be less angry about it,” he tells the station. Read more.
Oklahoma Football Player Condemns Sigma Epsilon on Social Media
In an expletive-laced Snapchat video, Eric Striker, a Black football player at the University of Oklahoma, angrily condemned Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s racist video chant Monday, according to KFOR 4 TV. He also called out the deceptions of a post-racial America. “Mother f*****s talk about racism don’t exist, be the same mother f*****s shaking our hand, giving us hugs, telling how you really love us. F*** you phony a** fraud a** b*****s.” He later posted an apology on a friend’s Twitter account. Read more.
Is Racist Video Chant Symbolic of Fraternity Culture?
The behavior displayed by members of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on a YouTube video is reportedly embedded in the organization’s DNA, according to Think Progress. “Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the only national fraternity founded in the antebellum South,” Think Progress writes, citing the fraternity’s national webpage, saying that the organization was “[f]ounded in a time of intense sectional feeling” and that it initially “confined its growth to the southern states.” Read more.