Five Theta Tau members have filed a lawsuit against Syracuse University, alleging they were treated unfairly after offensive videos at a fraternity event were let out.
The university filed disciplinary charges against 18 students after the crude videos surfaced last week. The videos show Theta Tau brothers acting out the sexual assault of a disabled person and then performing a parody oath: “I solemnly swear to always have hatred in my heart for n*ggers, sp*cs and most importantly the f*ckin’ k*kes.”
In the lawsuit, the brothers said the videos portrayed a “roast” that wasn’t supposed to be seen by the public. They were posted in a private Theta Tau Facebook group for a couple of weeks before a person disseminated them without authorization to the university.
“The Roast is a time-honored Chapter tradition that builds unity by satirically and hyperbolically depicting brothers,” the lawsuit stated.
The brothers said they were suspended from school, not allowed to go to their classes and maligned “to salvage Syracuse University’s reputation” at their expense. They alleged that the university ignored their rights and didn’t use the proper procedures when investigating the videos.
They also claimed the university labeled them as “racist, anti-sematic [sic], sexist and hostile to people with disabilities.”
“We are being forced through a shortened disciplinary process without the benefit of knowing the evidence the University has against us or a University representative to advise us,” one of the students wrote in an affidavit.
Several university officials were named in the lawsuit, including: Theresa Dahlberg, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science; Robert Hradsky, dean of students and associate vice president of the student experience; and Pamela Peter, assistant dean of student rights and affairs.
Sarah Scalese, associate vice president for communications, said the university stands by the actions it took to protect the well-being of the campus and maintain a safe and respectful learning environment.
Three of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were described as ethnically diverse. One is Indian American, one is African-American and one is a citizen of a Central American country.
The lawsuit asks for the university to stop disciplinary actions against the brothers and let them attend their classes. It also requests $1 million per student in monetary damages.