Syracuse Fraternity Theta Tau Suspended for Racist Video


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  • A video that shows fraternity brothers using racial and homophobic slurs has sparked outrage at Syracuse University, and around the country.

    The video was reportedly posted to a private Facebook page used by Theta Tau members, and obtained by Syracuse newspaper The Daily Orange. Upon the video’s release, the Chancellor of Syracuse, Kent Syverud, announced the immediate suspension of Theta Tau. In a statement, he said —

    “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.”

    The videos were posted by an SU student named David Yankowy III, who has since deleted his Twitter, and did not comment on the story for the Daily Orange. The videos have sparked active protests at Syracuse, with students asking for Theta Tau to be permanently banned.

    There are apparently more insensitive videos to which Syracuse has gained access, and protesters are demanding their release as well, using the hashtag #WheresTheVideoSU. In a statement posted on Twitter, the Grand Regent of Theta Tau, Matthew Clark, condemned the actions in the video, but put forth a defense, saying “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.”

    And Theta Tau executive director Michael Abraham says the release of the video has endangered those in the video.

    Frats getting in trouble for racial insensitivity is nothing new, and it’s kind of hard to believe that in 2018 some people still haven’t gotten the message. Just last week, the Lambda Chi chapter at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo was suspended for a party where some members dressed as “urban gangster” stereotypes. In one photo, a student even appeared wearing blackface. And again, the initial apology left a lot to be desired.

    Chapter president Logan Boersma said: “I absolutely feel terrible that it was construed like that. And I am fully aware that it can be insensitive.” Boersma also said the face paint wasn’t “meant to represent any race or ethnicity.”

    The New York Times interviewed sophomore Liam McMonagle about the Syracuse incident, and he makes a really strong point.

    “It’s the same response every time. It’s, ‘Here’s counseling, we’re here if you need us, there’s resource centers, and we promise we’ll punish them.’ But there’s no mechanisms for change.”

    He’s right. As long as universities and fraternities treat these incidents as isolated instead of a larger, more troubling behavioral pattern, nothing’s going to change.

    What do you guys think? How can fraternities and universities better respond to racism among their members and students? Let us know in the comments.

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