National frat is probing if other chapters used chant
The racist song appears familiar to other schools. One student said, "Yes, the song was taught to us."
National leaders of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity are investigating whether the racist chant used in Oklahoma has been sung by members of other chapters.
The University of Texas said in a statement that it was trying to find out if members of its SAE chapter had used the chant.
"Rumors also are circulating that a chant similar to the one at OU has been traditional in the UT chapter of SAE," University of Texas in Austin president Bill Powers said in a statement. "Our dean of students said Monday she is looking into this matter as is standard practice in such cases."
SAE national leaders said "several other incidents with chapters or members have been brought to the attention of the headquarters staff and leaders, and each of those instances will be investigated for further action."
Officials at the University of Oklahoma swiftly expelled SAE members Parker Rice and Levi Pettit this week after identifying them from a viral video as leaders of a racist chant.
Both college men, who are from the Dallas area, apologized Tuesday, and one sentence in Rice's apology raised eyebrows: "Yes, the song was taught to us."
In a statement, the national SAE headquarters responded to Rice's remark to say, "The national fraternity does not teach such a racist, hateful chant, and this chant is not part of any education or training."
"Our investigation has found very likely that the men learned the song from fellow chapter members, which reiterates why Sigma Alpha Epsilon did not hesitate to close the chapter completely because of the culture that may have been fostered in the group."
SAE's roots go back to the pre-Civil War South, where it was founded at the University of Alabama.
One of the Oklahoma chapter's cofounders, Jay Vinekar, has said that he had never heard similarly bigoted behavior since it was reestablished at the school in 1995. A black former member of the chapter, William Bruce James II, told CNN he also hadn't seen, heard, or felt similar racism when he was a member from 2001 to 2004.
But social media this week have suggested the chant was not isolated to Oklahoma.
One of the most damning posts was published weeks before the incident, when a user on Reddit wrote the racist lyrics in a comment about a fraternity at the University of Texas, adding that his friends in an SAE chapter called it "their favorite song to sing."
That appears to be the post that has caught the attention of University of Texas officials.