Five Theta Tau brothers have sued Syracuse University for "branding them as racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities" after a pair of videos showing the brothers saying racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, and ableist things surfaced last week.
The five Theta That brothers suing the university did so anonymously and are asking for $1 million dollars in damages for each student, plus a stop to the disciplinary proceedings against them. They argue they were unfairly punished "to salvage Syracuse University's reputation" and have faced "ridicule and scorn" in the aftermath of the videos surfacing. Four the brothers are freshmen and claim that being punished in "crucial final weeks of the semester" has threatened "their academic success and survival." The complaint adds that the plaintiffs are "ethnically diverse," since three of the brothers are people of color: One is a Black student, one is Indian American, and one is from Latin America.
Though the university doesn't comment on pending litigation, a spokesperson told Syracuse.com: "The University stands by the actions it took to protect the well-being of the campus community and maintain a respectful and safe learning environment."
Theta Tau members said in a statement that the videos showed a "satirical sketch" meant to roast a conservative brother in the frat. But students in the university didn't feel that way.
"People are mad and hurt," graduate student Alison Caliguire told Refinery29 last week, after attending a forum about the video. "Something that was repeated a few times is a request for mandatory classes on racial and social issues. Another thing that students said a lot ... was that this video is representative of how they're treated regularly; it's not a unique issue."
In the lawsuit, the brothers said that the "roast" was never meant to be public — though it was posted on a secret Facebook group for about two weeks before it was leaked.
Theta Tau was the fourth fraternity at Syracuse to be suspended so far this year, according to the Daily Orange, the school's student-run newspaper.
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