Syracuse University suspends fraternity after 'extremely racist' video emerges

Syracuse University has suspended a professional fraternity after video footage surfaced showing mem...

Posted: Apr 20, 2018 9:13 AM
Updated: Apr 20, 2018 9:13 AM

Syracuse University has suspended a professional fraternity after video footage surfaced showing members exhibiting "extremely racist" behavior, according to the university's chancellor.

Videos purport to show members of Theta Tau, an engineering fraternity, repeatedly using racial slurs and simulating sex acts.

Chancellor Kent Syverud called the behavior "offensive" in a statement to the campus community Wednesday.

"They include words and behaviors that are extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities," Syverud said.

The Daily Orange, an independent newspaper run by Syracuse University students, obtained and posted one video in which a fraternity member makes another one swear to hold onto hatred for African-Americans, Hispanics and Jews, using racial slurs for those groups.

Later, another student, using a derogatory word for Jews, makes a veiled reference to gas chambers in Nazi Germany.

CNN has not independently verified the authenticity of the video the newspaper posted. The paper said videos were posted in a secret Facebook group. The university has not released any videos.

"This conduct is deeply harmful and contrary to the values and community standards we expect of our students," Syverud said. "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."

After confirming the fraternity's involvement, the school's Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities suspended the chapter, Syverud said. All evidence was sent to the Department of Public Safety, which is working to identify the members and pursue "additional legal and disciplinary action," he said.

Reached for comment, Michael Abraham, executive director of Theta Tau's central office, told CNN that fraternity officials had discovered new information late Wednesday that "really changes the picture as it's been conveyed so far." He would not elaborate but said a "more thorough statement" will be released later Thursday.

CNN has reached out to the local chapter for comment.

On Wednesday night, hundreds of students turned out to protest at the chancellor's office, according to CNN affiliate WSYR, before moving to a chapel on the upstate New York campus, where they shared accounts of discrimination they had faced at the school. And they demanded that university officials release the videos.

"From the testimonies that I have personally heard today, it is completely clear that this is one in a great many of unspoken events, and the only reason that this really got started today is that somebody got caught on tape," Syracuse student Colin Mackenzie told WSYR.

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