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University of Oklahoma expels two students for racist video

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The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is seen at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Heide Brandes

The University of Oklahoma has expelled two students linked to a video showing members of a fraternity singing a song filled with racial epithets, the school president said on Tuesday in a statement.

President David Boren said the two students were “identified as playing a leadership role in the singing of a racist chant” connected to a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity event.

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This story has been updated. Please see below.

The university on Monday closed the fraternity after a video surfaced showing students singing the song. Members were ordered to move out of the fraternity’s house and the school labeled the actions of those involved “disgraceful.”

Boren told CNN the university has no tolerance for racism and was examining what it could do under U.S. civil rights laws.

The 10-second video, posted online on Sunday, 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 the fraternity.

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Sigma Alpha Epsilon members were given until midnight on Tuesday to remove their belongings and vacate the frat house.

A sorority that may have been involved in the date night, the Tri Delta group, said it was cooperating with the university’s investigation. Its house on campus has not faced any sanctions.

The controversy played out on social media with an online fundraising campaign launched for a black cook who lost her job because of the closure of the house.

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Another video made the rounds purportedly showing the fraternity’s white house mother using a racial slur.

William Bruce James II, one of the few black members of the Oklahoma fraternity who attended the university from 2001 to 2005, said the SAE house there has undergone a cultural change from the time he was a student.

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“The guys in that video are not my brothers,” he told CNN. He said he never heard an inkling of the offending song when he was a student.

Update, 8:33 p.m.: CNN reported that one of the expelled students, identified as Parker Rice, apologized for his actions.

“I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night,” Rice said in a statement. “It was wrong and reckless. I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same. 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.”

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(Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Bill Trott)


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