Chancellor Syverud assures swift action at media briefing

The Syracuse University chapter of Theta Tau was permanently expelled from campus over the weekend.
Published: April 24, 2018

The Theta Tau controversy continues to embroil Syracuse University as Chancellor Kent Syverud praised the response from the university community and efforts to make the university more inclusive on Monday.

During a media briefing at Manley Field House Monday afternoon, Syverud assured that the university has been and will continue to take swift actions to deal with the problem as requested by students, parents and alumni, according to He said everyone here at SU has stepped up to counter the hatred and worked collectively to make the university better.

“It’s been a wrenching five days for so many who care about our students and about Syracuse University,” Syverud said according to “ … Our students, our faculty, our staff, our alumni, our parents have spoken up and have come together to support each other to reflect and to act on the next tangible steps to make sure the university lives up to its values.”

After the first video containing anti-Semitic remarks was published online, Syverud said that SU’s Muslim Chaplin Amir Duric and Historically Black Church Rev. Pedro Castro Jr. reached out to Rabbi Leah Fein for assisting Jewish students in an act of solidarity.

“The collective response to this incident has been inspiring,” Syverud said.

Bobby Maldonado, chief of SU’s Department of Public Safety, announced on Sunday night that the DPS and Students Affairs office filed a complaint against 18 participants of the fraternity sponsored event and removed them from academic participation, though he said the university won’t publish the names of the students to maintain the integrity of the investigation.

Robert Hradsky, dean of students, said in an email that the 18 people are under investigation for allegedly violating the Code of Student Conduct and have been referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Violations may include behavior that intimidates the mental health or safety of anyone or any group, disorderly conduct like lewd or obscene behavior and harassment that go beyond protected free speech, Hradsky said in the email.

The disciplinary process, composed of eight steps, is slated to complete in about two weeks, according to the email.

Syverud, meanwhile, was under fire for not showing up at a forum at Hendricks Chapel Wednesday night. He showed up at Schine Student Center Friday morning during a student protest and apologized for his absence from the event.

The Daily Orange first obtained and published a video on Wednesday, in which the Theta Tau members are seen remarking racial, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and homophobic slurs while imitating sexual acts. The student publication posted a second video Saturday night, in which students are seen mimicking the sexual assault of a person with disabilities.

The publication of the first video made national headlines and sparked a sit-in at the Schine Student Center on Friday, which coincided with the Spring Reception event for admitted and prospective students. The controversy also led to multiple student forums hosted by various schools, colleges and student groups where students, faculty and staff shared their grievances and addressed ways to enhance diversity and inclusion on campus.

Theta Tau posted an apology on its website and contended that it was part of a satirical sketch, according to The Daily Orange. The university expelled the fraternity on Saturday.

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