Suspended Syracuse frat apologizes for racist video

The latest fraternity to be suspended by Syracuse University issued a formal apology late Thursday in which it acknowledged the production of a racist video that was intended as a spoof.

"It's with profound embarrassment and disappointment in ourselves that we find our fraternity in this situation," the statement from Theta Tau read, in part. "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."

Each year, according to the statement, the fraternity asks new members to roast older members, and "one of these brothers is a conservative Republican, and the new members roasted him by playing the part of a racist conservative character. 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. ... None of the satire was said or done in malice."

The frat also said: "We cannot apologize enough for the pain, sadness and fear that this has caused. Our heart breaks when we see the protests and Hendricks Chapel congregations when we see the pain that our brothers have caused."

Theta Tau became the fourth fraternity to be suspended by the university this academic year, according the school's independent newspaper, The Daily Orange. Syracuse suspended Sigma Alpha Mu last week following a months-long investigation into hazing.

The video -- made public by The Daily Orange on Wednesday -- showed members of the engineering fraternity using racist, ethnic, sexist slurs, and other offensive language, while pretending to perform sexual acts on each other.

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud called the students' conduct in the footage "extremely troubling and disturbing" in a statement released Wednesday.

"Videos showing this offensive behavior have surfaced online. They include words and behaviors that are extremely racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities," Syverud said. "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."

Syracuse University's Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities suspended the fraternity after confirming Theta Tau's involvement, according to the statement.

The university's Department of Public Safety was investigating the incident and looking to "identify individuals involved and to take additional legal and disciplinary action," Syverud said.

The university hasn't released the footage, citing the ongoing investigation, but part of the video still was available on The Daily Orange's website as of early Friday.

It was originally posted to a secret Facebook group called "Tau of Theta Tau," according to The Daily Orange.

Many students held on-campus protests on Wednesday, marching near the chancellor's home with signs and chanting for the video to be released.

The demonstrators, including some who marched for more than three hours, pointed to the footage as an example of systemic racism and sexism at Syracuse University, according to local news reports.
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