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Syracuse fraternity members removed from classes following racist video

April 23, 2018 - 5:44 am
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(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) -- Syracuse University removed more than a dozen Theta Tau fraternity members from classes on Sunday after video emerged showing members participating in racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic skits, according to to school officials.

The university said 18 students had been "removed from academic participation" in connection with the video, which it said showed Theta Tau members acting in an "extremely racist" and "homophobic" manner.

One of the videos -- made public by the school's independent newspaper, The Daily Orange, last week -- showed members of the engineering fraternity using racist, ethnic and sexist slurs while pretending to perform sexual acts on each other. The paper published a second video over the weekend which it said showed people in Theta Tau’s house miming the sexual assault of a person with disabilities.

The students removed were all "present at the sponsored event" where the video was filmed, the central New York school's chief of the Department of Public Safety, Bobby Maldonado, said in a statement Sunday.

"Out of an abundance of caution and ongoing concern for our campus community, Provost Michele Wheatly and Dean of Students Rob Hradsky notified the 18 students of their removal from academic participation, effective immediately," Maldonado said. "Alternative class and study arrangements will be made for these students as the judicial process moves forward."

He said other students could be implicated as the investigation continues, according to the statement.

The university permanently expelled the fraternity chapter on Saturday, warning that it could take disciplinary actions against the individual students involved at a later time.

"Our investigation is ongoing and others may be implicated in the coming days," Maldonado said Sunday. "We have not and will not release the videos that are a part of our investigation, he added, noting that his office refused to be “party to the distribution of this hateful and hurtful content."

Portions of the video, originally posted to a secret Facebook group called "Tau of Theta Tau," were still available on The Daily Orange's website as of early Monday.

The fraternity chapter apologized on Friday, saying the activity depicted in video was meant to be "satirical."

"Each semester our new members are given the opportunity to write and act out a skit, in order to roast the active brothers. This event was never intended to be centered around racism or hate. This year, one of these brothers is a conservative Republican, and the new members roasted him by playing the part of a racist conservative character," the university's Theta Tau chapter said in a statement. "It was a satirical sketch of an uneducated, racist, homophobic, misogynist, sexist, ableist and intolerant person.

"The young man playing the part of this character nor the young man being roasted do not hold any of the horrible views espoused as a part of that sketch," it added.

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