Oklahoma fraternity linked to racist song is closed and vacated

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 11, 2015 10:39 AM

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The University of Oklahoma fraternity linked to video showing students singing a racist song has been shut down and its house vacated, school officials said on Wednesday.

The university has expelled two students who were leading the song and closed the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house, with university President David Boren saying the school would have zero tolerance for racism.

"As of midnight last night, the house has closed," said Corbin Wallace, press secretary for Boren's office. "It's too early to determine what will be done with that property."

The 10-second video was shot on a bus chartered for a date night by the fraternity. Students were seen and heard chanting in unison, using offensive language referring to blacks and vowing never to admit them to Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

The Dallas Morning News identified the two students as Levi Pettit, 20, and Parker Rice, 19. Pettit's parents and Rice issued apologies on Tuesday.

"It was wrong and reckless," Rice told the newspaper in a written statement. "For me, this is a devastating lesson and I am seeking guidance on how I can learn from this."

The university said more people could face punishment, depending on the outcome of its investigation.

The fraternity, one of the largest and oldest in the United States, has been in trouble at several campuses nationwide.

It has been linked to at least six deaths in the past eight years from excessive drinking or hazing violence. SAE has denied any wrongdoing.

SAE chapters have been punished before because of racially charged incidents at other campuses.

The dean of students at the University of Texas is looking into whether the SAE members there used a similar racist chant as in Oklahoma, the school said.

Douglas Fierberg, an attorney specializing in school hazing, said a major problem is that SAE relies heavily on self-management by undergraduates on campuses.

"This essentially entrusts the management of what are potentially dangerous circumstances by 18, 19 and 20 year olds," he said.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)