University expels fraternity over racist video

Syracuse University has expelled a fraternity after videos surfaced showing members exhibiting inappropriate behavior, according to the university's chancellor.

Posted: Apr 24, 2018 1:42 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2018 1:42 PM

Syracuse University has removed 18 students from regular classes and started disciplinary proceedings against them for a controversial Theta Tau fraternity event where a racist and anti-Semitic video was shot.

Even as it did so, a second video surfaced: This one captured Theta Tau members making fun of the disabled.

The developments are just the latest for the beleaguered fraternity. Over the weekend, the university announced it had permanently expelled Theta Tau.

Why the students were removed

Syracuse said Monday that it removed the 18 students from classes as a precautionary measure.

"Out of an abundance of caution and ongoing concern for our campus community, Provost Michele Wheatly and Dean of Students Rob Hradsky notified the 18 students of their removal from academic participation, effective immediately," Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado said in a statement.

"Alternative class and study arrangements will be made for these students as the judicial process moves forward,"

In addition to the 18, more students may be implicated as the investigation continues, he added.

What's in the second video

Like the first, the latest video shows fraternity members mocking and using slurs. The target this time are physical and intellectual disabilities.

The video shows a man wearing a helmet sitting in an office chair while someone else simulates a sex act on him.

University Chancellor Kent Syverud described the video as "appalling and disgusting."

"I believe the second video depicts egregious behavior, including sexual assault, violence and discriminatory mockery and hostility toward people with disabilities that is unacceptable and deeply harmful in many ways," Chancellor Syverud in a statement Sunday.

The university said it received the second video Wednesday. University officials would not confirm to CNN whether they are aware of more video evidence.

"We have not and will not release the videos that are a part of our investigation. It is imperative that we preserve the evidence to be used in individual conduct cases. In addition, my office will not be party to the distribution of this hateful and hurtful content," Maldonado said.

The Department of Public Safety has shared the video with the Onondaga County district attorney.

Onondaga District Attorney William Fitzpatrick's office has not responded to CNN for comment.

The fraternity apologizes

The Theta Tau Syracuse chapter apologized in a statement after the first video gained national attention.

"Anyone of color or of any marginalized group who has seen this video has every right to be angry and upset with the despicable contents of that video," it said.

The racist video had been part of a skit to roast an active brother, who is a conservative Republican, it said in the statement.

"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," according to the fraternity. "The young man playing the part of this character nor the young man being roasted do not hold any of the horrible views espoused as a part of that sketch."

It added that the group wasn't trying to make excuses for the video but wanted to explain the context for it.

"We cannot apologize enough for the pain, sadness and fear that this has caused," it stated.

It said the organization would never demand new members to recite the kind of language in the video and that the fraternity was not a place of hate.

Theta Tau's central office also condemned the actions of those in the video as "truly disgraceful."

"It was revealed that the video was a parody, skit, or roast of the active brothers by a pledge class, and not Chapter members hazing, humiliating, or disparaging its pledges as the university had described to our central office. However, this does not excuse the behavior," it said in a statement.

The university is reviewing Greek life

The university will review the Greek life culture to establish new practices and require bias training for Greek and student organization leaders, members and advisers, and mandatory student training will be implemented, Syverud wrote in a letter to alumni last week.

The central office vowed to take action based on findings from an investigation.

The Theta Tau central office did not respond for comment when CNN reached out after release of the second video.

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