A member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma apologized late Tuesday for his involvement in a racist chant that sparked outrage across the country this week.
“I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. It was wrong and reckless,” Parker Rice said in a statement obtained by the Dallas Morning News. “I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same.”
Rice added that he had withdrawn from the university on Monday.
OU President David Boren announced Tuesday that he had expelled two students who “played a leadership role” in the chant, which was filmed Saturday while members of the fraternity were en route to a date party. Video of the chant was posted Sunday by a black student organization at OU and went viral overnight.
Boren did not identify the students who were expelled, but the university’s student newspaper, OU Daily, and the Dallas Morning News identified the students as Rice and Levi Petitt. Both are originally from the Dallas area, according to the newspaper.
Petitt’s parents also released a statement Tuesday afternoon confirming that their son was involved in the chant. The Petitts apologized for their son’s behavior but said they did not believe he was a racist.
“He made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever,” the statement read. “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.”
Read Rice’s full statement below:
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.
And read the Petitt family’s full statement below:
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.
This post has been updated.