Parker Rice is the University of Oklahoma freshman named as the leader of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon racist chant in the “there will never be a n***er in SAE” video that went viral over the weekend. Rice, who has been expelled from the university, appears to have deleted all his social media accounts.
A University of Oklahoma student who preferred to remain anonymous revealed to Heavy that Parker Rice was the leader of the racist chant in the viral video.
Meanwhile, The Daily Mail received confirmation from Rice’s high school, the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas.
Rice also apologized for the incident in a statement to the Dallas Morning News that said in part:
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. …. 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
Here’s what we know about Rice:
1. He Went to a $16,000-a-Year Jesuit Prep School in Texas
Rice’s grandmother was JoAnn “Jody” Johnston, who passed away in 2011. According to her obituary, she was a member and later alumni advisor to the Tri Delta sorority at the University of Oklahoma. That sorority was widely reported to also be on the bus where the infamous racist video was filmed. According to a statement issued by the sorority, they are not under investigation by the school. Parker Rice’s mother is named after JoAnn.
According to Bloomberg.com, Rice’s father is Bob Rice, who was vice president of a real estate firm in Texas and now serves as senior vice president and manager of the Texas office at Weeks Robinson Properties LLC.
Meanwhile, Rice’s involvement in the video has made life more difficult for an Oklahoma State University student who shares his name. The other Parker Rice received a call from CNN, and interview requests from other outlets, after the name got out, according to media blogger Jim Romenesko. The Oklahoma State student said in his Facebook post, “He has ruined the Parker Rice name. This guy also sometimes uses my email address at stores in Oklahoma and I get his receipts. I really don’t like this guy.”
2. His Frat Got Kicked Off Campus by OU President Boren
Rice is the leader of the sickening racist chant seen in the video, which sparked widespread outrage when it was posted online Sunday.
The video was filmed Saturday on a bus ferrying frat members and their dates from campus to the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, where they would celebrate Founders Day in a black-tie event marking SAE’s 159th birthday.
Students are heard cheering as Rice sings:
There will never be a n**ger in SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he’ll never sign with me. There will never be a n**ger in SAE.
Rice has been expelled from the university, and the rest of his chapter has until midnight tonight to get off campus before its house is shuttered, as announced by OU President David Boren via his Twitter.
3. Frat Member Levi Pettit, Whose Parents Said He Made a ‘Horrible Mistake,’ Has Also Been Expelled
The second expelled student was identified later Tuesday as Levi Pettit.
In an apology posted on a website created by his family, Brody and Susan Pettit said:
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.
On the website, “Friends & Family of Levi Pettit,” his parents also thanked their friends and family for the “kind comments and prayers,” which they said are “very comforting in this difficult time.” They also asked “that the media and public please respect our family’s privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps.”
Pettit was seen in a second angle of the video, with what appears to be a microphone in front of his face. As he chants, he can be seen telling the person filming him to stop.
4. SAE Has a Recent History of Racial Discrimination & Possible Historic Ties to the KKK
According to our source, Sigma Alpha Epsilon does not have any black members. Our source said the frat had one pledge this year who was black, but he did not become a member.
Oklahoma’s KFOR reports that the last black member for SAE at OU was 14 years ago and named William Bruce James II.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon (ΣΑΕ, also SAE) was founded at the University of Alabama in 1856 and is now one of the largest Greek-letter social college fraternities in North America. Two of its founders were Noble Leslie DeVotie and Nathan Elams Cockrell. Both were part of the Confederacy in the Civil War, and DeVotie was the first man to lose his life in the Civil War after accidentally drowning.
Founded in a time of intense sectional feeling, Sigma Alpha Epsilon confined its growth to the southern states. By the end of 1857, the fraternity numbered seven chapters. Its first national convention met in the summer of 1858 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with four of its eight chapters in attendance. By the time of the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, fifteen chapters had been established.
A French Wikipedia page alludes to a possible KKK past:
[Co-founder] Wade Foster served under Confederate General (and Ku Klux Klan founder) Nathan Bedford Forrest during Civil War. Some controversy exists regarding the post Civil War activities of some of the founders. It was speculated that many of the early members of were indeed members of the KKK. To be sure, 6 of the 8 founders served in the Confederate Army.
KKK ties are not mentioned on the English version of the SAE page.
However, SAE has had documented trouble with racial discrimination in the recent past.
The New York Times reports that in 1982 members at the University of Cincinnati got in trouble for a racially demeaning party “celebrating” Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday
Huffington Post reports that in 2013 SAE members at Washington University in St. Louis got suspended for singing racist remarks at black students. Huffpo also reports that in 2014 University of Arizona SAE members were suspended, this time for harassing Jewish students, including using a Hitler salute.
5. Rice & Pettit Have Until March 13 to Appeal Their Expulsions
An expulsion letter (below) from OU’s President David Boren dated March 10 says Rice is being removed from the school “because of your leadership role in leading a racist and exclusionary chant which has created a hostile educational environment for others.” The letter notes that the student has until March 13, 2015, to lodge an appeal with the school’s Equal Opportunity Officers. A hearing on the expulsion must be held by March 23.
Boren has also stated that OU is currently investigating a Vine video from 2013 that allegedly shows Sigma Alpha Epsilon house mom Beauton Gilbow rapping the word “n***er” repeatedly. Watch that video here.