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Syracuse University has indefinitely suspended 15 students in the Theta Tau fraternity who were involved in making two videos that showed frat members spewing racist, homophobic and other offensive comments.
Karen Felter, the attorney representing the 15 students, confirmed the suspensions to CNN on June 9.
"The 15 students have been suspended indefinitely for one to two years," said Felter, adding the students' financial aid benefits have also been suspended. "This means the university does not have any obligation to readmit them once the suspension is over. It is up to their discretion."
The students' suspension began on June 5, according to Felter.
The video, which showed frat members pledging to "always have hate in their heart" for a plethora of minorities, was originally published by The Daily Orange, the SU student newspaper, on April 21. The fraternity offered an apology the next day, amidst protests sparked by the video.
"Anyone of color or of any marginalized group who has seen this video has every right to be angry and upset with the despicable contents of that video," the fraternity said in its statement, according to Syracuse.com. They said the skit was a roast of a conservative Republican member of the group. "We want to let everyone on our campus know that we are truly sorry, and that nothing like this will ever again be tolerated. Not in private, not as part of a joke — not ever. We cannot apologize enough for the pain, sadness and fear that this has caused," they said.
Dean of Students Robert Hradsky wrote a letter to students of the school condemning the actions of the fraternity members and explaining their punishment.
"The hearing and deliberations, overseen by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, have concluded, and the students were notified of their respective outcomes and subsequent sanctions," he wrote.
The letter noted that students have the ability to appeal the decision made by the school, which could take several weeks.
Gregory Germain, a Syracuse law professor who advised several of the students involved, added that their academic transcripts will also contain a record of the suspension.
"There will be notations on their academic transcripts that they have been 'involuntarily withdrawn'" from the university, he said to CNN.
In an April statement to students shortly after the video surfaced, the school's chancellor, Kent Syverud, spoke out against the hateful footage in a letter to students.
"Videos showing this offensive behavior have surfaced online," Syverud wrote. "They include words and behaviors 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. The conduct is deeply harmful and contrary to the values and community standards we expect of our students. There is absolutely no place at Syracuse University for behavior or language that degrades any individual or group’s race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, disability or religious beliefs," he said.
Theta Tau was also permanently expelled from the university in the wake of the video, as announced in a video message from Syverud on April 21. Theta Tau launched an internal investigation into the video as well. They have not offered a comment on the recent suspensions.
Five members of the Theta Tau frat also filed a lawsuit against the school on April 24, according to Syracuse.com. They accused the school of "branding them as racist, anti-sematic [sic], sexist and hostile to people with disabilities" and asked for $1 million in damages per student and the halting of disciplinary proceedings.
[Photo: Screenshot via YouTube]
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