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A campus police officer put a newspaper through the gates at the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house.
A campus police officer put a newspaper through the gates at the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house.Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. — Officials with the University of Oklahoma Tuesday expelled two students they had identified as playing a leading role in singing a racist chant on a bus over the weekend that has sparked outrage across the country.

The university's president, David L. Boren, a former Oklahoma governor, expelled the two students but did not identify them, saying that they had "created a hostile learning environment for others."

Boren said the university was continuing its investigation of all the students involved in singing the chant, and that once the identities of other students had been confirmed, "they will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action."

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The expulsion letter to the students states that the action takes effect immediately and that they can contact the university's Equal Opportunity Officer to contest the decision.

Some students who know one of the two SAE members who were expelled identified him as a 19-year-old freshman from Dallas who attended the Jesuit College Preparatory School, a prestigious, private, all-boys school located in north Dallas that is 69 percent white. Officials with that school said Tuesday that it appears a former student there was in the racist video. The school did not publicly identify the student.

''I am appalled by the actions in the video and extremely hurt by the pain this has caused our community,'' the Jesuit school's president, Mike Earsing, said in a statement. ''It is unconscionable and very sad that in 2015 we still live in a society where this type of bigotry and racism takes place.''

The campus has been reeling since members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon were shown in two videos chanting a song whose lyrics included racial slurs boasting there would never be a black member and referring to lynching, with the words, "you can hang 'em from a tree."

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The university's president as well as the fraternity's national headquarters in Illinois shut the chapter after the first video was released Sunday, and university officials severed all ties to it Monday. The fraternity's house was ordered closed by midnight Tuesday and the national fraternity suspended all of the members.

The video has also left the national chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon defending itself against claims that the racist song has been used for years, not just at Oklahoma but on other campuses as well.

Former fraternity members in other states have said on social media that the same chant was used at their colleges, and University of Oklahoma officials who are investigating said they do not believe the song originated on their campus.

"I'm not sure that it's strictly local," Boren said.

One Oklahoma student told NBC News that she heard fraternity members chant the same song two years ago while on a bus to a fraternity party. "I would definitely say this is not an isolated incident," said the senior, who had asked not to be identified.

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at Oklahoma has had black members, but very few, and none recently, according to alumni. William Blake James II wrote on his blog that when he joined in 2001, he was only the second black member, "and there still hasn't been a third black man" and some of his former fraternity brothers, writing on Facebook, supported that account.

"I don't want to be angry, but I can't help but feel grieved," James said in an interview with a local television station, KFOR. "I feel like I've lost a family member."

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In a statement, the fraternity's national headquarters said it was investigating several other incidents involving other chapters and members.

The fallout continued to reverberate far from the University of Oklahoma campus. One of the nation's most sought-after high school football players, Jean Delance of Mesquite, Texas, who is black, withdrew his previous commitment to play for Oklahoma, citing the videos.


Material from the Washington Post was used in this report.