SAE Trustees: ‘Horrible Cancer’ Entered University of Oklahoma Chapter
Special to the Outlook
NORMAN, Okla. (CBS News) – Leaders and alumni of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma acknowledged on Wednesday the racist chant at the center of a firestorm was not new to the chapter.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, the OU chapter’s board of trustees said it “has discovered that a horrible cancer entered into the OU chapter of SAE three to four years ago and was not immediately and totally stopped. It should have been.”
“We are sincerely remorseful for the pain that this terrible chant has caused and would ask for forgiveness,” the statement read.
“For the safety of the students that were involved and the students who were not involved, our desire would be for all parties to begin the healing process,” the board of trustees said. “We hope that this despicable situation will forever change an atmosphere that would even allow an incident like this to take place.”
The statement comes a day after two students were expelled in connection with a video that surfaced Sunday which showed SAE members chanting a racist song before a fraternity event.
OU President David Boren quickly shut down the fraternity and forced its members to move out of the chapter’s house by midnight Tuesday. In addition to the two students who were expelled, the university continues to investigate who else was involved.
Meanwhile, the University of Texas at Austin is investigating rumors that SAE members there used a similar fraternity song.
UT Austin president Bill Powers released a statement Wednesday confirming the investigation.
“Our dean of students said Monday she is looking into this matter as is standard practice in such cases,” the statement read.
However, the SAE chapter at UT Austin sent out a strong response distancing itself from its OU counterparts calling the song “vindictive” and saying his fraternity brothers were “appalled” by it.
“I would like to clarify that we do not perform this chant or anything remotely close to it for that matter, nor had I, or any active member in our entire chapter, heard of the chant preceding the release of the video containing racial slurs,” said chapter president Luke Cone in a statement to CBS News affiliate KEYE.
In the fallout from the incident at OU, the students identified on the video as leading the chant issued apologies Tuesday night.
“I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night,” freshman Parker Rice said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press and other media outlets by his father. “It was wrong and reckless.”
He called the incident “a horrible mistake” and “a devastating lesson” for which he is “seeking guidance on how I can learn from this and make sure it never happens again.”
“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 another student seen on the video, Levi Pettit, released a statement that said he “made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever.”
Pettit’s parents, Brody and Susan Pettit, said in a statement posted online that their son “is a good boy, but what we saw in those videos is disgusting.”
“We are sad for our son — but more importantly, we apologize to the community he has hurt,” the Pettits said. “We would also like to apologize to the entire African American community, University of Oklahoma student body and administration.”
This article was reprinted with permission from CBS Interactive Inc. and Black America Press USA.