Racist Video Of US University's Fraternity Initiation Surfaces

Photo: Jerome Davis/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Getty Images.
A professional engineering fraternity at Syracuse University has been suspended after a video showing members engaging in behaviour that the school's chancellor deemed "extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities" began circulating.
The Daily Orange, the school's student-run newspaper, reported Wednesday that Chancellor Kent Syverud announced the suspension of SU's chapter of Theta Tau in a campus-wide email. "Earlier today, the University learned of extremely troubling and disturbing conduct at one of our professional fraternity chapters, Theta Tau," the email, which was provided to Refinery29 by SU officials, read. "Videos showing this offensive behaviour have surfaced online. They include words and behaviours that are extremely racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities. I am appalled and shaken by this and deeply concerned for all members of our community."
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According to Syverud, the university launched an investigation into the video to identify the people involved. "This behaviour is unacceptable and contradicts our moral standards," Syverud said in the statement.
Late Wednesday, the Daily Orange released the video and posted it on YouTube. (Warning: The video contains disturbing dialogue.)
In the video, members can be seen performing a skit, which includes racist and sexist jokes, and the simulation of sex acts. Then, one member takes an oath, saying, "I solemnly swear, to always have hatred in my heart for n******, s****, and most importantly the fucking k****."
At a hearing the university held Wednesday afternoon to address the incident, many students told school officials that the video is far from an isolated incident. Student reporter Catherine Leffert reported the engineering school's dean, Teresa Dahlberg, said, "This isn’t a once and done, this is an ongoing conversation. And it’s about the broader community, but it’s also about the climate in the engineering school."
SU's student association president has called for a full audit of Greek organisations on campus.
Theta Tau is the fourth fraternity at the university to be suspended this year alone, according to the Daily Orange, a fact students say shows the administration has done little to address the problems with Greek life on campus. A former SU student who wished to remain anonymous told Refinery29 that she experienced racism firsthand from a fraternity when she was a freshman.
"I was out with several of my friends at the time and we were headed to a frat party and there was a long line outside of the frat house," she said. "There was a boy who was acting as a bouncer said when we made it to the front, 'Yeah, you guys can come in except for her.' He was pointing to my white friends and the one who wasn't allowed in was me."
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The student says fraternities and sororities on campus are very segregated along racial lines, and she had Black friends who left fraternities because they did not feel accepted. "Fraternity and sorority culture [at SU] can be very toxic, whether it's racially, regarding sexism, or body shaming," she said.
This story was originally published at 4:19 p.m.
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