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Expelled University of Oklahoma student apologizes for racist video

University of Oklahoma President David Boren expelled the two students who appeared to be leading the racist chant in a video. Two Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat members issued apologies. 

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    University of Oklahoma students hold a sign to be carried to the now closed University of Oklahoma's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house during a rally in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, March 10, 2015. The university's president 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)
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A former University of Oklahoma fraternity member who was shown in a video chanting a racial slur has issued an apology, as have the parents of a second student.

In a statement Tuesday, former OU student Parker Rice 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."

"I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night," Rice said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press by his father. "It was wrong and reckless."

Meanwhile, the parents of another student seen in the video, Levi Pettit, released a statement saying, "he made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever."

The apologies came after OU President David Boren expelled the two students who appeared to be leading the chant. He did not release their names. Boren said others involved would face discipline.

The chant referenced lynching and indicated black students would never be admitted to OU's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Rice said in his statement that he withdrew from the university Monday. The statement from Pettit's parents did not address his status with the university.

Both Pettit and Rice are from Texas.

Rice said threatening calls to his family have prompted them to leave their North Dallas home. He said Saturday's incident was "likely was fueled by alcohol," 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,'" his statement said.

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." The Pettits apologized "to the entire African-American community (and) University of Oklahoma student body and administration."

Also Tuesday, Beauton Gilbow, the fraternity's "house mom," issued a statement that addressed a video from 2013 showing her repeating a racial slur as music plays in the background. Gilbow said she was singing along to a song. She said she was "heartbroken" by the portrayal that she was racist but understood how the video must appear in the context of the week's events.

A "house mom" is a housing director who might oversee staff and finances at a sorority or fraternity house.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported, as ugly as the chant by SAE members was, it's hardly surprising and that they know of similar events that simply didn't happen to be caught on video. Matthew Hughey, a University of Connecticut sociologist who has studied the Greek system, says that the video is simply a very visible sign of how the system is fraught with inequality and racism.

"I’d like to say from a moral standpoint that it’s abhorrent, or somehow unique, but research points to [indications] that the white fraternity system is based on class and racial seclusion, and the discourse within those walls is quite often classist and racist," Professor Hughey says. "So that’s what was caught on camera and what we’re witnessing."

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