“The national fraternity does not teach such a racist, hateful chant, and this chant is not part of any education or training,” the fraternity said in its statement. “Our investigation has found very likely that the men learned the song from fellow chapter members.”
The University of Oklahoma chapter of SAE was expelled both from the national organization and the campus after a 10-second video surfaced of members on a bus chanting a racist slogan: “There will never be a n—– SAE/There will never be a n—– SAE/You can hang ‘em from a tree, but it will never start with me/There will never be a n—– SAE.”
The national fraternity, in a statement, did not say what other incidents it was investigating, except that some of them went back 20 years. But Buzzfeed quoted a former pledge of the Louisiana Tech University chapter of SAE who it said “witnessed a similar racist chant at an SAE party at Tech in 2010.”
“I can’t remember exactly what [a fraternity member] chanted/drunkenly said but it was similar to the video that has been on social media,” Dylan Merriman told Buzzfeed. Louisiana Tech University told Buzzfeed it had no knowledge of the incident.
Two apologies were issued yesterday on behalf of SAE members at Oklahoma who were clearly identified in the video. One came from the parents of Levi Pettit, who, on a Web site, said their son “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.”
The other came from student Parker Rice, via his father: “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.”
University President David Boren said two students, who he did not name, were expelled from the university because they were easily identified in the video. Rice, in his statement, said he “withdrew from the university” on Monday. The Pettit statement did not mention withdrawal or expulsion.
In an interview with local media yesterday, Boren said there would likely be further punishments meted out in connection with the incident. Boren said: “But those we felt played a leadership role, they were identified on the video, their faces very clearly. I think by taking swift action on those we’ve indicated what our policies are. We’ll evaluate all of them as time goes along and take proper action. But it’s going to take much longer. These students were easily identifiable by their faces on the video, and also by what fellow students had to say, the testimony of others.”
He added: “We go on spring break next week, so I think it will take a little while. But we’ll deal appropriately with all of them. Even those who just sang the song, they weren’t playing a leadership role in it, they weren’t instigating it. But they didn’t stand up and say ‘stop,’ when they should have stood up. Every one of them should have stood up and said, ‘I refuse to sing this.’ But they didn’t, obviously. We have to look at that and say, ‘They also need to have learned from this and have some discipline against them.’”
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly referred to a statement by the national fraternity on Thursday instead of yesterday.