One of the two University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat members, identified in a video as leading a “racist chant,” has issued an apology.
On Saturday night, Park Rice and Levi Pettit were among a group of frat members that were riding a party-bound bus. In a nine-second video clip, which made its way to the school newspaper, the Oklahoma Daily, and the campus organization Unheard, both boys can be seen clapping and fist pumping while chanting, “There will never be a ni**** SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me.”
After viewing the video, the SAE’s national chapter made the decision to suspend the University of Oklahoma members, and threatened permanent suspension to anyone who was partaking in the chant.
While Rice and Pettit were not the only ones chanting, they were identified as the leaders of the chant and were expelled from the University on Tuesday, March 10.
After his expulsion, Rice released a statement apologizing for his actions, via his father Bob Rice, according to the Dallas Morning News. Below is his statement in full.
“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.
At this point, all I can do is be thoughtful and prayerful about my next steps, but I am also concerned about the fraternity friends still on campus. Apparently, they are feeling unsafe and some have been harassed by others. Hopefully, the university will protect them.
For me, this is a devastating lesson and I am seeking guidance on how I can learn from this and make sure it never happens again. My goal for the long-term is to be a man who has the heart and the courage to reject racism wherever I see or experience it in the future.
Thank you for your consideration of my deepest apologies for what I did.”
Levi Pettit’s parents also issued an apology for their son, calling his actions “disgusting.”
“As parents of Levi, we love him and care for him deeply,” Brody & Susan Pettit said in a statement on their website, Friendsandfamilyoflevipettit.com. “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.”
[Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images]