A man at the center of the controversy over a video depicting Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members singing a racist song has apologized for his part in the scandal.
Parker Rice, 19, one of two students expelled from the University of Oklahoma over the incident caught on tape this weekend released a statement on Monday apologizing for his actions and vowing to get help.
"I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. It was wrong and reckless," read the statement from the recent Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas graduate, according to the Dallas Morning News. "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."
Rice's apology continued, citing alcohol and his failure to adhere to the values he learned at Jesuit Prep as explanations for his actions:
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."
Parents Of Second Student Release Apology For Him
The parents of a second expelled student, Levi Pettit, 20, posted their own apology on behalf of their son.
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.
OU Students March For Change
On Tuesday night, members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and several hundred demonstrators stopped traffic in Norman, Oklahoma, as they marched across campus to the shuttered SAE house. According to the student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily, the crowd held banners, sang and chanted phrases such as "not on our campus" and "Lean on Me."
Though the march was intended to celebrate the closing of the now-boarded-up SAE house, it was also an opportunity to talk about the changes needed on campus. "We need to move beyond songs," senior Marquis Bell-Ard said. "Hopefully this leads to larger changes."
As the marchers made their way to the SAE house, members of other Greek houses watched from their windows and some Sigma Phi Epsilon brothers came out and joined the group.
"There are a lot of people outside of the OU bubble who need to hear what is happening here," Bell-Ard said. "[We need] to create a form of healing and to use this as momentum for larger structural issues. This was a starting point for anti-blackness."
A campus-wide Diversity Town Hall is slated for campus at 7:30 on Wednesday.