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15 Theta Tau fraternity members suspended for up to 2 years following controversial videos

CNYCentral file photo

15 members of the Theta Tau fraternity have been handed an indefinite suspension by Syracuse University for up to two years in relation to their alleged roles in controversial videos released earlier this year.

Karen Felter, one of the lawyers representing 15 students who received suspensions, says the decision was made Tuesday after a university panel found the students guilty of violating university policies.

Two videos of the fraternity surfaced in April depicting Theta Tau members and pledges participating in behavior that Chancellor Kent Syverud described as “racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist and hostile to people with disabilities.”

SEE ALSO | SU fraternity suspended due to ‘troubling and disturbing conduct’

Felter says the suspensions handed down Tuesday varied from one year to two years, with additional conditions for reinstatement - like reading books and completing community service - necessary for reinstatement. Nine students received one-year suspensions, the other six received two-year suspensions, according to Felter.

The students have the opportunity to appeal the university's decision and have it heard by an appeals board, an opportunity Felter says has been recommended for each. The deadline for the students to file their full appeals is 4 p.m. Friday.

According to The Daily Orange, the students were accused of multiple policy violations that include: physical harm or threats of physical harm, harassment beyond protected free speech, sexual abuse or harassment and illegal use, possession, purchase, distribution manufacture or sale of alcohol, drugs or controlled substances, among other things.

The fraternity was suspended after the first video of the events was released and then expelled shortly after that. The Daily Orange released a second video of the fraternity which depicted more offensive behavior.

The 15 students formally punished by the university Tuesday were among 18 involved in the case; three students came to informal agreements with the university.

RELATED | Third Theta Tau student reaches agreement with SU

Dean of Students Robert Hradsky sent a statement to Syracuse University students, faculty and staff announcing the conclusion of the conduct hearing deliberations on Friday. Hradsky said in the statement that due to federal privacy laws, they are not able to report on the specifics of the sanctions.

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
As you know, the student conduct process for the students involved in the Theta Tau videos has been ongoing since the alleged behavior first came to light in April.
I am writing today to report that 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. Due to federal privacy laws, we are not able to report on the specifics of those sanctions.
The students now have the opportunity to appeal the conduct decisions and associated sanctions. The appeal process could take as long as several weeks.
I recognize this has been a challenging time for our campus community. We treated this investigation and student conduct process fairly and expeditiously. It is now time for our community to focus on the important work of advancing a more inclusive campus community.
Sincerely,
Robert Hradsky, Ed.D.
Dean of Students


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