University of Oklahoma fraternity brothers who led racist chant issue apologies

Two University of Oklahoma freshmen and Sigma Alpha Epsilon members captured on video leading a racist chant on a charter bus Saturday night have issued apologies in their hometown of Dallas.

Two men load a mattress from the now closed University of Oklahoma's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house into a moving truck, in Norman, Okla., Tuesday. President David Boren expelled two students Tuesday after he said they were identified as leaders of a racist chant captured on video during a fraternity event. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Two men load a mattress from the now closed University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house into a moving truck, in Norman, Okla., Tuesday. President David Boren expelled two students Tuesday after he said they were identified as leaders of a racist chant captured on video during a fraternity event. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The pair were formally kicked out of the university today on the grounds they created a “hostile learning environment.” Their frat chapter has been disbanded.

In a long statement released to the Dallas Morning News by his father, freshman Parker Rice said: (This is an excerpt. Go to the Morning News for the full statement.)

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…

The parents of the second student, Levi Pettit, issued an apology via a web site:

As parents of Levi, we love him and care for him deeply. 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.

We were as shocked and saddened by this news as anyone. Of course, we are sad for our son – but more importantly, we apologize to the community he has hurt. We would also like to apologize to the – entire African American community, University of Oklahoma student body and administration. Our family has the responsibility to apologize, and also to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Our words will only go so far  – as a family, we commit to following our words with deeds.

To our friends and family, thank you for your kind comments and prayers. They are very comforting in this difficult time.

We ask that the media and public please respect our family’s privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps.

 

Reader Comments 0

70 comments
dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Fascinating that the Education Blog specialist at the AJC thinks that what happened at U of OK is important enough to warrant 4 different articles.  


With what's going on in the legislature in GEORGIA RIGHT NOW.


Perhaps shows her (and the AJC) world view more clearly than ever.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Hmm, up to 5 now.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

I'd just like to note that the expelled freshman said that "the song was taught to us," presumably by the older SAE members who were teaching the pledge their songs. (If he's a freshman then he's a pledge, not a fully sworn member.)  That's why everyone in the video knew the words and sang them together.


I think I can see why the UO president expelled the chapter from campus. This latest incident does not seem likely to have been the first for SAE.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@OriginalProf - Most likely not the first time.  Many of the Black students there have reported SAE is not WORST OFFENDER!  A number have said they were shocked it was Not being reported on one or two other Frats sororities of that university. Surely they ALL are quaking in their Lucky Gene Pool Boots right now.  uh..huh

popacorn
popacorn

Bitter, not bright, AND unlucky. I'm sorry. 

straker
straker

Bernie - "belly aching"


OH, the irony.


coj
coj

I am concerned that many of these fraternity and sorority members who exhibit racist qualities and have not been identified will become the leaders of the future. They will perpetrate these negative behaviors towards people that aren't like them and most likely get away with it in their businesses and social settings. 

Bernie31
Bernie31

@coj The Fear many of US here now have of retaliation in the Work Place from those who disagree with the University's decisions. Many Black Americans are catching Heck on the Job Miles away because of it. There is always a ripple affect in the fall out of such situations.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

I commend these two boys for taking the first step towards forgiveness and reconciliation. Like I said yesterday, the boys need to be disciplined for their actions.   Hopefully, they will be able to change their ways and get a second chance at college, career and life.   Everyone deserves a second chance.   What they did was stupid and disgusting.  Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for college students, or young people for that matter, to do impulsive, ignorant things.   And in a world of social media where everything can get caught on tape or video and spread to the world, the boys learned a painful lesson that you have to THINK before doing anything that could destroy your reputation and offend others.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

@Astropig @living-in-outdated-ed completely agree - it won't be nor should it be at U of O.  And they need to let some time pass, perhaps as much as a year. Emotions are too raw right now, and not surprised their family feels unsafe.  That is equally sad.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed  - OMG! Maureen!....When People Color read such Outlandish essays. They will Look, roll their Eyes and say this WOMAN is Delusional and out of touch with reality.  Please spare Us The White Guilt Liberal Bleeding Heart of nonsense....She is CRAZY!

Truly!  If you you do not believe what I say to you. Quickly go and inquire with any African American AJC employee, even the Janitor!  if you can find any! watch as they read...Look at the animated amusement on their faces....as they read. see the raised eyebrow too! Look for the smile you will see as they LOOK UP to you!

That will be yer SIGN! 

Bernie31
Bernie31

@living-in-outdated-ed @Bernie31 @MaureenDowney -  Sadly, You too are delusional.

Why not try stepping out of your comfort ZONE and try to get a REAL UNDERSTANDING of what it means to be a person of color in this GREAT NATION.


 I know My comments often are not comfortable with many of you most times. I understand that!


But it is sooo important for ALL of you to receive and get an unvarnished View as to how we think as a people. My Views are not out of the MAIN Stream of Black America at ALL!


This is a Major Part of the Problem we are faced with. there is NO open Dialogue of discussion. All we have here is one group of people making great pronouncements as to HOW another Group who has been offended should think and act towards the offending Matter.  its NUTS!  it makes no sense at ALL!  You are only listening to yourselves and no one else.


Not a good place to be in the REAL WORD!


I make No apologies....open your mind to the views that are not in agreement with your view and way of thinking. Try to understand why we as a people feel and think this way instead of always TELLING US what and how to think about when you offend US!


Shut HIM down is always the thinking and opinion of those who refuse Wisdom and Understanding!

Astropig
Astropig

@living-in-outdated-ed


Yours is a very reasonable,well stated position.Kudos.


I agree that they should get another chance,but they can get that chance somewhere other than U of O.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

@Bernie31 @MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed I think you need to be put in "time out." Your views are in the extreme minority here and are, frankly, not intellectually stimulating.  If you're trying to be funny or sarcastic,  it's not working.  I find myself struggling to even find the strength to respond to such dribble, and it will be my last rebuttal to your misinterpretation of a well written essay that is educationally sound.

bu2
bu2

@MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed 

I loved #3


Moment 3: The best way to deal with a racist is to show them the dissonance in their lives. Rather than marching and shouting, what if President Boren invited the young men on that bus who sang their hateful song to sit and watch the video with the black staff members of the SAE house who fixed their meals and cleaned their rooms? Just played it over and again or even ask them to sing the song live. What if after their live performance President Boren finally allowed Walter, the man who cooked their meals for the last 15 years to ask the young men one simple question: “is this what you really think of me?” See most racists, like homophobes hold to their views in isolation. I believe when those young men came face to face with the people who cared for them and loved them, the full impact of their behavior would then be clear—“How can you profess love for a God you have not seen while hating (hurting) your brother that you see every day?” As the boys and girls who withstood Bull Conner’s hoses will tell you— the human conscious is a most power ally in the battle for social justice.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mariadixonhall/2015/03/a-teachable-moment-how-ou-failed-transformation-101/#ixzz3U5cH8rXw

Bernie31
Bernie31

@bu2 @living-in-outdated-ed @Bernie31 @MaureenDowney - She like Ben Carson, condi rice, colin powell shares yer views and neither share or hold the same views as Most Blacks in America.  uh..huh.


All 3 are Black in skin color but think as the most conservative Whites of america which is offensive to the average Black American.
 any of you wonder why that is so? kinda strange don't you think? out of over 13 million black people ...you have about 1 million who agree and think as you.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@OriginalProf @bu2 @MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed - in the Past Black members would return the favor by spitting or slipping urine, or feces in their food and or drinks. the same goes for domestic Help as well. A tact often applied by many in such situations. I have heard and known of many who have taken such actions in decades past  to some of the highest Leaders of this STATE! 

You should hear some of the stories of the oldest members of our generation.

A lot of it rightly justified and quite funny too!

This is shocking to many of you, but not to many of our community. uh..huh.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@living-in-outdated-ed - I would not necessairly commend them. But it is certainly without a doubt

a Genius PR move on the advice of counsel...fer sure! 


I personally thought it was the Best ever seen or Heard. 

Even I wanted to grab a hankerchief and feel pity for them. Until I reflected on the confidence in their behavior. As if the primary chanter would say No one would not dare tell me to be quiet or this is wrong.


Certainly a OSCAR deserving performance. But only time will tell fer sure.

Cere
Cere

@Bernie31 @MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed 

I agree with Bernie. This is a double-standard. This writer is in a lofty position to consider this a 'teachable moment' for these privileged white boys. How absurd. How many times has this writer advocated for 'teachable moments' for poor, young black boys who get into trouble?  No, in today's world, we just incarcerate them. Immediately. Which teaches them lessons alright - that they have no value - and how to become a real criminal. And that's if they're lucky and aren't shot. Where is this writer when it's time to advocate for social solutions to poverty? To single motherhood?  Realistic (but most likely expensive) solutions to education? How about those black students at the college who are doing quite well? Has this writer/professor written about them? Elevated them for the privileged white boys in her class to learn to respect them? What about the entire race of people these privileged white boys were mocking? They are people. Human beings. Not exhibits to place in a room to instill some kind of 'guilty conscious' punishment on these boys. The punishment was appropriate. It's done. Stop trying to act as if it was 'harsh'.


However -- I will go on to say that today's social media world is over the top in lifelong humiliation. I recently read a posting by Monica Lewinsky that was very insightful as to how damaging the media and social media is today to the psyche of persons who make mistakes. It's very hard to learn a lesson and recover a normal life in the glass house of a society we live in today.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Bernie31 @OriginalProf @bu2 @MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed 

It may amuse you to hear that when I first came down here from the North I knew nothing of Southern Jim Crow laws and connected taboos, and read books about them. I read in many places of this private resistance by black domestic cooks and servants.  Later when I was studying colonial slave revolts, I learned that poisoning was the great fear of many planters.  Such sabotage was a more indirect form of slave revolt.

Cere
Cere

@Bernie31 @MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed 

Not to belabor the point - but really? This is her issue?!! ---

"Our students sit in a middling place that is as promising as it is dangerous. They are old enough to drive cars; travel abroad; and use a credit card but they are not mature enough to always understand the consequences of driving too fast; failing to heed warnings of staying with the group; or predatory interest rates."

Come on... 


"

bu2
bu2

@OriginalProf @bu2 @MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed 

It would certainly be optional for the employees.

In most cases, there would be a friendly relationship, so there would be power in the author's suggestion.  The idea would be to try to get them to put a real face on what they are talking about.  To try to generate empathy when there wasn't any before.

bu2
bu2

@Cere @Bernie31 @MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed 

It bothers me that people seem to think private speech should be regulated.


I was never so impressed with the ACLU as when they supported the rights of the American Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois.  They supported their beliefs even for the most obnoxious of groups acting in a particularly obnoxious manner.


What we have is kicking out some immature drunk kids for a song sung at a private party.  Her point is that most of the kids that age are pretty immature.  They make lots of bad decisions.  That's why we have 21 year old drinking age.  That's why we have drug problems.


Now when football players allegedly rape women, they get protected by the police department.  When they shoplift they miss a single baseball game (but not any football).   When they tweet No means yes while they are still under investigation, it gets ignored.  When they stand in the middle of campus chanting a stupid, offensive song about doing it to a girl, they get a slap on the wrist (see Jameis Winston at FSU).


Yet when someone sings a stupid offensive song who isn't a football player and does it on a charter bus to a private party, they get kicked out of school.


And I think the author is right.  Rather than teaching the impact, it teaches them resentment and to do things undercover.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@bu2 @Cere @Bernie31 @MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed 

Legally, the First Amendment only covers speech in public places. Private places may make their own rules. And walking down the main street of Skokie, IL, is walking down a public right-of-way. However, conduct by a fraternity on its vacation bus is private, and all student organizations have to follow university rules or have their operating permit taken away. Individual students also agree to follow certain rules of conduct.

The fraternity chapter had to agree to non-discriminatory behavior toward minorities to get its University charter (standard for all universities). Students have to agree to treat other students in that way too.  So............

Cere
Cere

@Bernie31 @MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed 

And for the record: Her issue is obviously not about race - it's about class. Same as the top tier leaders in DeKalb. I never hear these highly paid African-Americans getting into the nitty-gritty details of a life lived in poverty. I never hear them advocating for support and relief for these children. Special attention or small group/one-on-one instruction - I only hear them clamoring for more money, which they then spend on more administrators (and cars for those administrators). Just because someone is black, does not mean they understand poverty - black or white. She has broken through the 'race ceiling' and is not as offended or taken down by these hecklings (songs)...  However, younger, less successful, less confident, less mature African-Americans (students at the university) most certainly are rattled by such blatant, thoughtless racist rantings. Of course these boys should be expelled for this kind of behavior!


Ok. I'm done now. Sorry for the rants. This whole thing is really bothersome to me.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@Cere @Bernie31 @MaureenDowney @living-in-outdated-ed - Thank-YOU!

Its good to know there is at Least One other reasonable sane Voice among US!

Your comment has lifted and restored My Faith to a point and understanding. Where we as Nation, have not completely become a Nation of self Righteous Idiots!

Caius
Caius

Looking at the big picture, the frat house wanted no blacks but loved the blacks on the football team.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@Caius  - This is the same ALL over America...They Love their Black Gladiators like CRAZY! but just do not move next door. Fer God's sake do not date, marry or impregnate my little precious one. Ain't she cute! is their thinking.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@living-in-outdated-ed @Bernie31 @Caius  - Are you aware as late as 1970 in the State of Georgia you would or very well could be Charged and Jailed for violating Georgia Law fer RACE MIXING! No Kidding..State Law! You is a FELON! and a Danger!

Yer know its still frowned upon Greatly by yer Governor and this Crowd here....So I am not the one you should be Fearful of. Its yer  neighbors, church members, friends, family and State Leaders.


I do hope you are packing heat when you are out among this Crowd. Surely you know how much they stare and frown where ever you go. some are even bold enough to say something offensive in ear shot just to let you know ...they are offended by yer presence. So it is YOU My Friend WHO needs to be Very Careful if anyone!


in Days gone by they would Love to String the both of You Up on the nearest Oak Tree, as late as 1960!  Just more lovely Georgia History, My friend from The pretend God fearing jesus loving Christian crowd.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@living-in-outdated-ed @Bernie31 @Caius  - This is Topic related...check Georgia Law!  This is Real and nothing about it is a overgeneralization. If you want to walk around uninformed...keep yer head in the sand. 


A word of advice, I would not wonder too far outside of I-285 late at night, or some areas during the day seeking a place to eat or stay in small town Georgia. Not a good Idea if yer love breathing.


You and Yours will certainly here the theme song as song on that BUS! by SAE!  clearly!  There is nothing More in this world, this Crowd Hates and despise than Race Mixing!  This is the greatest TABOO of the SOUTH! Being a Yankee you do NOT have a good understanding of the thinking of the Southern People. They are a very unforgiven bunch when it comes to Race Mixing.

Yer jest don't DO DAT!...it offends de senses of de Peoples. it is equated as being GAY!

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@living-in-outdated-ed @Bernie31 @Caius 

I think it makes some difference as to which gender is the black member of the couple. If the man is white and has chosen a black female, there will probably be a different and lesser public reaction than if the man is black and has chosen a white female.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@OriginalProf @living-in-outdated-ed @Bernie31 @Caius - LOL!  I will say and agree the outrage is not as Vocal. but the stares of disapproval are certianly there. If there are mixed children visible they to are frowned upon.


I too am seeing more of mixed couples of White Men and Black women. I love it! I think it is great and a sign of progress. strange enough I have seen more of it in South Carolina more than any other state. which was shocking and perplexing. I many times ponder the reason why. The place where the Civil War started  because of the issue of the "Peculiar Institution" aka Slavery.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

@Bernie31 @living-in-outdated-ed @Caius Sorry, but you're way out of line here.   I have never felt uncomfortable being a "damn yankee."  However, I have felt that there is still some gender inequality at times and of course I am less than happy with the state of race relations because it is much more tolerant in the northeast.  But again, that is an overgeneralization.   Overgeneralizations are dangerous, @Bernie31.   Please stick to the topic!

bu2
bu2

@Cere @Bernie31 @living-in-outdated-ed @Caius 


I hope you aren't getting self-righteous about the north.  There is the same thing there in many different forms.  Remember all the problems when they tried to integrate schools in Boston?   The bias against Blacks often isn't as visible because very few Blacks live in the north except in and around the big cities. 


One of the "acceptable" forms is bias against southerners.


When I moved to Ohio after living a couple of different places including Kentucky, I was asked, "Are the kids in Kentucky dumb?"

Cere
Cere

@Bernie31 @living-in-outdated-ed @Caius 

True again. I moved here from Ohio 30 years ago and when you entered Forsyth County there was a very, very offensive sign posted there. (You certainly know the one, I won't quote it.) And then Oprah came to Forsyth to protest the KKK parade allowed to take place there. They rattled her big time. She said she would never return. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@bu2 @Cere @Bernie31 @living-in-outdated-ed @Caius 

I certainly would never try to argue that there's little racism up North! Most of the medium to big-sized cities have large black populations; and the cities are self-segregated. And there are a lot of big cities up North. Have you read about the so-called Northern Migration of black Southerners in the late 1930s-1940s?  Where do you think they went?!


But still....the North does not have that history of systemic, legalized racism that the South did with its Jim Crow laws, and that still seems to hang on like a bad memory for many, both white and black. It's a random, personalized racism up North.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

@Bernie31 @Caius I'd say that an unfair generalization. Whose thinking are you talking about?   I know plenty of interracial couples, including yours truly, so be VERY CAREFUL what you say here.....

straker
straker

Astropig - "everybody needs to move on"


Are you kidding?


The professional victims will milk this for all the "poor me" outrage its worth.

Astropig
Astropig

@straker


"The professional victims will milk this for all the "poor me" outrage its worth."


Time may well prove you correct, although I hope not. Although hopeful, I'm not naive-I know that there will be people who will drag this sorry episode out again and again for whatever selfish,cynical purpose.It'll happen in this space and others. Sign of the times,I guess.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@straker  - I jest Love waking Up and reading all of the BELLY ACHING and Whining about the same old Crap. ( if it were not fer all dem Coloreds, everything would be perfect,  song)  from the soon to be "VERY STILL", OLD Thinkers  who post here every Morning. The AjC Obit sure has a lot of its members lately. They are leaving this world in HUGE NUMBERS, everyday. I wonder which of you will be Next? I look fer yer names everyday!  with a smile!  uh..huh.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Did he withdraw or was he expelled?


It was used as a teaching moment, for both the two students, the fraternities, and all other OK students.


Let's move on.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@Wascatlady Yep, if someone was expelled for anti-Christian bigotry you'd be supportive of that as well....right.  BS, you'd be lauding their right to free speech.


Hypocrite.

Astropig
Astropig

Now that they have issued apologies and paid a real price for their actions,everybody needs to move on.We can't "un-do" what they did,so everybody needs to calm down and get on with life.I sincerely hope that the media doesn't start stalking these people and reporting on their every move.Beating this story to death will only fan the flames of bigotry on both sides of the cultural divide. 

redweather
redweather

It was so refreshing to read an apology that didn't begin with the words, "If I offended anyone . . ."

Bernie31
Bernie31

@redweather - well said! I hate to hear those words as well.  for the apology is Never sincere!