The two University of Oklahoma students behind a video in which they were depicted in blackface while one used a racial slur have withdrawn from the school, its officials say.
“Those students will not return to campus,” OU president James Gallogly said at a press conference. “This type of behavior is not welcome here and is condemned in the strongest terms by me, and by our university.”
The two women, Frances Ford and Olivia Urban have issued an apology for posting an “insensitive and irresponsible”, video mocking Black people, adding: “I am truly heartbroken over this mistake and deeply regret any adverse reactions,” Ford said.
In a Twitter video, which was shared on Friday (first shared on Snapchat), one woman is seen painting her face and hands black before looking into the camera and saying what sounds like “I am a n—r.”
Some girls that attend OU thought it would be funny (especially Olivia Urban and Francis Ford) to put black paint on their face and say “I am a nigger” @UofOklahoma #whatareyougoingtodo ???? pic.twitter.com/ccWGnG4L7N
— gabby (@GabbyHahaa) January 18, 2019
The second woman can be heard laughing in the background, filmed the video and told her friend that she was putting on too much of the paint.
Urban said it was “the most regrettable decision of my life.”
“My heart hurts to see the traumatic impact my words and actions have had on those who have been hurt of my behalf,” Urban said. “There is no excuse for this behavior, in private or in public.”
The backlash was swift and on Tuesday at least 1,000 students and faculty members converged on campus for a rally to condemn the video.
“The university is trying to make the right decisions, but I think they need to include more students in the conversation moving forward,” said student Courtney Patterson, “because an apology is simply not going to be enough.”
On Saturday, London Moore, president of the OU chapter of Delta Delta Delta sorority, of which the two students were members, issued a statement saying that one of the students on the video had been expelled from the sorority.
“The woman who participated in, filmed and posted the video is no longer a member of our organization,” Moore said.
“The behavior documented in the video is abhorrent and is in no way consistent with Tri Delta’s ideals. To those students directly impacted by this senseless act of racism, we are deeply sorry, and we know that is not enough.”
The school, located in Norman, Okla., was swift with its response and condemnation of the video as well.
“We are saddened and offended that on the eve of such an important holiday for our nation we are reminded how far we have yet to come in the conversation about treating everyone with respect and dignity,” said Gallogly in a joint statement with Dr. Jane Irungu, interim associate vice president of the Office of University Community. “Martin Luther King, Jr said: ‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education’.”
However, OU is not a stranger to racially charged video controversies. In 2015, members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity were shown in footage singing a fraternity chant that went: “There will never be a n****r SAE,” while on their way to a formal event. The chapter at the school was closed by its national organization when news of the video spread