Theta Tau | Syracuse University Responds To Offensive Video
By Jishnu Nair – Syracuse, N.Y. (CitrusTV) – Syracuse University is reaching out to the national chapter of Theta Tau to conduct a chapter review of misconduct by the organization’s Tau chapter, which is based on Harrison Street.
The university would also require all Greek and student organization leaders to participate in implicit bias and inclusivity training, Chancellor Kent Syverud said in an email today. Residence Life staff will also undergo the same training and new students will receive a seminar to address diversity and inclusion.
“The recent video revealing offensive and unacceptable behavior by members of a Syracuse University fraternity is a painful wake-up call,” Syverud wrote in his email.
On Wednesday morning, the Chancellor emailed all students to inform them that videos containing “words and behaviors that are extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities” had surfaced on a private Facebook group called the Tau of Theta Tau. The group has since been deleted, and the organization’s website has also been taken down.
After the Chancellor’s email, students began clamoring online for the video to be revealed, with the hashtag #WhereIsTheVideoSU spreading on Twitter. Many students attended an afternoon gathering at Hendricks Chapel as knowledge of the video began to spread. It was there that protests went from a thought to a reality.
“When I got to the discussion at Hendricks Chapel and noticed how many voices shared the same sentiments I did, I just got a bunch of people together and we knew we wanted to mobilize,” said Liam McMonagle, a sophomore at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications.
McMonagle and a group of protesters travelled at 6 to Chancellor Syverud’s personal residence, where they peacefully but loudly chanted “Recognize us S.U.!” From there, the group travelled to Hendricks Chapel for a student-led dialogue on experiences as minorities and marginalization by the university.
There, many students shared their experiences with the audience. Student Association President James Franco and Vice President Angie Pati were in attendance, although Chancellor Syverud did not make an appearance himself, which was noted by students on Twitter.
Calls for unity were prevalent among the sentiments expressed at Hendricks.
“We are all minorities and we need to stick together—and I will not let this happen again,” one student said.
During the dialogue, the Daily Orange released a subtitled version of one of the videos. The video attracted attention from major outlets including The New York Times and ABC News. It reopened a long-standing discussion on the role of Greek life on college campuses.
William Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga District Attorney, says the offensive video was sent to him. He says while it is personally offensive, he does not believe any crime has been committed.
The video’s release has not quelled the calls for action at Syracuse, either. Many students view the video as evidence of minority students’ marginalization on campus and intend to continue protesting.
“Today is step one. This is by no means the end of what we’re doing, this is the first step of organizing and mobilizing,” McMonagle said.
Theta Tau’s campus representatives could not be reached for comment, nor could the organization’s national chapter. Theta Tau’s national chapter released a Facebook post authored by its grand regent, Matthew Clark.
“As our preliminary investigation progressed through the day, 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,” Clark wrote.
Neither Clark nor any other member of Theta Tau’s national branch could be reached for comment.
University dorms and colleges continue to respond by sending emails out to their students with dates and times of community meetings. This includes South Campus.
Protests will continue Friday morning with a sit-in at Schine Student Center. The event coincides with Syracuse’s admitted students today.
The university’s student tour association, University 100, confirmed to tour guides that the video will be addressed for the committed students and family. Furthermore, U100 has prepared measures for tour guides to answer questions relating to the recent news.
Classes are cancelled from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 19th, for engineering students. The time will be used to host a dialogue between College of Engineering students and staff.
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Taylor Lang, Conor Wight, Anna Azallion, Lianza Reyes, Greg Bradbury, and Nicole DeMentri all contributed reporting to this piece.