Chancellor: Syracuse University Permanently Expels Local Chapter of Theta Tau

Apr 21, 2018

Students protest outside of the Carrier Dome on Friday.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

 UPDATED

Syracuse University has permanently expelled the Chapter of Theta Tau today after videos filled with hatred, bigotry, racism and insensitive comments targeted at the LGBT community, Jews and people with disabilities surfaced this week.  In a message to the campus Community posted to the website Vimeo, Chancellor Kent Syverud says the Dean of Students, Robert Hradsky delivered a letter to Theta TAU leadership today informing the fraternity of the university’s final decision. 

He referred to the video, which shows new fraternity members of Theta Tau voicing insults at Blacks, people with disabilities, Jews and others, as ‘disgusting.’

 “We are permanently expelling chapter of Theta Tau.  This follow immediate action we took within two hours of receiving and authenticating the video. …at that time, we immediately suspended the chapter, halting all of its activities.”

Syverud says 38 members of the fraternity have been interviewed.  The Department of Public Service will recommend any charges.  The cases will also be referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, which can initiate a judicial process. 

“The students have rights in this process and they will be observed,” Syverud added.  “Outcomes could include suspension or expulsion from Syracuse University.  The process can include a hearing … and each student can appeal the outcome of the hearing.” 

TO READ MORE, SCROLL DOWN: WATCH CHANCELLOR SYVERUD'S MESSAGE HERE.

Message from Chancellor Kent Syverud from Syracuse University News on Vimeo.

He promised a report on Monday with an update of actions to be taken and the length of time a review of the students’ conduct will take. 

Syverud acknowledges concrete steps are more important than any words from him or the University.    

NEXT STEPS BY SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY

Syverud promised a top to bottom review of the entire Greek system of fraternities and sororities.  He also plans to transform the first year forum that all students take, to ensure a more inclusive environment.  He went on to say that people from all backgrounds, “who are all Orange, deserve in every place, in classrooms and fraternities, to be treated with respect.”

FRATERNITY MAKES APOLOGY AND EXPLANATION

Syverud’s decision to expel the Theta Tau fraternity chapter comes less than a day after the members of the group made a public apology.  A statement was posted on the group’s website.

“Every single member of Theta Tau would like to apologize to everyone affected by the racist video that was recorded as a part of our new member process. Theta Tau is made up of a diverse group of engineering students from a variety of nationalities, beliefs, and backgrounds, and we strongly believe that racism has no place on a university campus.”

(Read Entire Statement Here)

The statement went on to try and explain the context of the offensive content of the video, which has now drawn national attention in places such as the Washington Post, Huffington Post, CBS News and other media. 

“Each semester our new members are given the opportunity to write and act out a skit, in order to roast the active brothers. This event was never intended to be centered around racism or hate. This year, one of these brothers is a conservative Republican, and the new members roasted him by playing the part of a racist conservative character. It was a satirical sketch of an uneducated, racist, homophobic, misogynist, sexist, ableist and intolerant person.”

The fraternity goes on to say the membership is diverse, a group of open-minded, scholarly leaders, who acknowledge the ‘toxic environment’ in the nation that has fomented hate and intolerance. 

In the end, the apology was not enough to slow the actions of the University.  Days of protests, forums in classes, schools and Hendrick’s Chapel featured students speaking out against the video, while demanding actions by the administration.  Many also detailed other acts of intolerance they suffered on campus, making actions against this incident more necessary and immediate.