Syracuse University has suspended 16 members of Theta Tau fraternity, after they appeared in an extremely racist and offensive video.
The video surfaced showing the members making racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic taunts, during a roast.
According to CNN, the fraternity was permanently expelled from campus in April. Since, the fraternity has apologized and claimed that the video was meant to be a satire of conservative member of the frat.
“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,” Theta Tau Syracuse Chapter said on its website. They added that the group wasn’t attempting to make excuses for the content but wanted to provide some context to it.
That doesn’t excuse anything though, especially the deeper systemic issues that happen on campuses nationwide. Meanwhile other free speech advocates argue against ignoring the context.
“When a university expels students for a private roast consisting of completely protected speech, it has no business pretending that it cares about free expression,” said director Ari Cohen of FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights In Education) to Refinery 29. “Labeling this obvious satire ‘harassment’ makes light of the actual cases of serious harassment that colleges should be looking to combat, and wastes resources that could be used to investigate real offenses. Labeling it a ‘breach of the peace’ is just stupid.”
The school submitted a letter on Tuesday that said the students had been responsible for violating its anti-harassment policy.
Their suspension is indefinite until the fall of 2020. And in order for the students to be considered for readmission, they are required to stay away from the school, and they will have to submit a petition demonstrating “good citizenship”. They also have to show evidence of “academic progress and/or gainful employment,” complete 160 hours of community service, and write a 12-page research paper on diversity and inclusion.