On Wednesday, the Syracuse University chapter of engineering fratTheta Tau was suspended after university officials learned of “extremely troubling and disturbing conduct.”
This troubling and disturbing conduct culminated in a six-minute hazing/frat induction video released by student newspaper Daily Orange. In the video, filmed in Theta Tau’s house, one man forces another to his knees and has him pledge an “oath” of hatred. “F‑‑‑ black people” says the kneeling person. “I solemnly swear to always have hatred in my heart for…” He proceeds to list off the racial slurs for African-Americans, Hispanics, and Jews.
This was not the only video of its kind. Several of them were uploaded to a secret Theta Tau Facebook group and feature disgraceful slurs and hateful language direct at not just black, hispanic, and Jewish people but also women, gays, and the disabled. In one recording, a bro yells at two others, calling them “k*kes” and yelling at them to “get in the f*ckin’ showers,” referencing the gas chambers used by Nazis during the Holocaust. In another, a man sits in a wheelchair while another yells, “He’s drooling out of his mouth because he’s retarded in a wheelchair.” Frat members bearing witness in each video provide a sickening laugh-track to the decidedly unfunny events before them.
Students all over campus demanded the release of the videos before the Daily Orange blasted them on the Internet. According to the student newspaper, “protesters gathered outside University President Kent Syverud’s house, which is across the street from Theta Tau. Some students on Twitter started posting the hashtag ‘#WheresTheVideoSU.’”
This crowd is massive. Changing “Hey hey! Ho ho! Theta Tau has got to go.” pic.twitter.com/zUHF9zW23f
— Kennedy Rose (@KennedyWrites) April 18, 2018
While I am utterly appalled at what Theta Tau at Syracuse University allegedly said in a video during pledging, I am unfortunately not surprised. We must hold our campus accountable for the racist, homophobic, and sexist behavior it allows and perpetuates.
— Crys (@Crysletona) April 18, 2018
Theta Tau isn’t an isolated event. These are things said about people of color and minorities everyday on SU’s campus…
— Anika (@nomofoso) April 19, 2018
Theta Tau is the fourth fraternity suspended from SU during the 2017-18 academic year, a fact which caused many students to voice their belief that rather than being an isolated incident, the videos represent a larger cultural problem at the university. “Theta Tau video is the tipping point in a cultural epidemic at SU,” writes the Daily Orange.
“The video isn’t surprising — it’s a manifestation of microaggressions, rumors, whispers and outright acts of hatred marginalized students encounter in their time at SU.”
“The only difference between this display of prejudice and so many others that go unnoticed at the university is that someone recorded it, and it got out.”
if those members of Theta Tau don’t get reprimanded besides their little suspension, best believe in a few months when I get hit with that “alum donation” email I’m linking them back to the article and reminding them Syracuse doesn’t want my spic money
— нαℓεყ (@haley_millan) April 18, 2018
“Theta Tau is the fourth fraternity suspended from SU during the 2017-18 academic year.” Perhaps it’s time to admit that either Greek Life has a problem, or Syracuse has a Greek Life problem. https://t.co/XHP9rMXgQL
— Aileen Gallagher (@aegallagher) April 18, 2018
Cuse wanna charge 70K for tuition, but letting shit like Theta Tau go off with the easiest suspension
— BAMF (@SmoothGuyBiggs) April 19, 2018
Syverud addressed the video in an email to students and faculty.
“The conduct is deeply harmful and contrary to the values and community standards we expect of our students.,” he wrote. “There is absolutely no place at Syracuse University for behavior or language that degrades any individual or group’s race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, disability or religious beliefs.”
“Syracuse University is committed to fostering a community where all our students feel welcome and are treated with dignity and respect. This behavior is unacceptable and contradicts our moral standards.”
It will be interesting to see what further punishment SU doles out to the frat members— if any. The only silver lining of this situation is the outrage shared by so many students at the university, manifested in their unwillingness to let this behavior go unnoticed and unpunished.