On April 18th, Syracuse University decided to permanently expel the Theta Tau fraternity after footage emerged of its members participating in a racist and anti-Semitic skit. The Chancellor of the University, Kent Syverud, emailed a statement to students, faculty, and staff affirming that the video included, “words and behaviors that are extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities”. He continued:
“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. Upon confirming Theta Tau’s involvement, the University’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities immediately suspended the fraternity, effectively halting all activities. At this time, all evidence has been turned over to the Department of Public Safety, which has launched a formal investigation to identify individuals involved and to take additional legal and disciplinary action. Syracuse University is committed to fostering a community where all our students feel welcome and are treated with dignity and respect. This behavior is unacceptable and contradicts our moral standards. What happened at Theta Tau serves as a reminder that violations of codes of honor, behavior and values will be met with swift and appropriate consequences”.
This occurrence at Syracuse is not an isolated incident. It seems that every week there is a new video going viral with middle school, high school, and college-aged students using racial slurs and other derogatory and offensive phrases. These incidents are commonplace amongst Greek organizations (sororities and fraternities), sports teams, and other clubs. In this specific case, many students are protesting that the video should be posted and accessible students in order to show that racism is “alive and well” on campus. In response to the continuing protests, much has been written and spoken about how universities can best serve the interests of their students of color. Those who disagree with the protesters argue that students of color, in particular, should be protected from uncomfortable experiences that distract from their education. Sympathizers insist that true education depends on students experiencing discomfort, so they are better prepared to cope with the discomforts they will inevitably face in the future. While there are good points to be considered on both sides of the debate, it is up to the student body how they would like to handle the situation. While it is up to each campus on how to deal with these types of situations, it is important to open up the conversation on how we should proceed as a society and deal with these conflicts within the realm of educational institutions. What do you think is the best way to accomplish this?