The national leader of the Theta Tau professional engineering fraternity said he’s concerned for the safety of some group members after video of them engaging in racist and homophobic behavior surfaced online.
The shocking footage, which shows members using racial slurs and simulating sex acts on one another as part of a “ritual,” led to the suspension of the group’s Syracuse University chapter on Monday. The series of videos have sparked campus protests and demands from students to punish those involved.
“I solemnly swear to always have hatred in my heart for n—–s, s–cs and most importantly, the f–king k—s,” a member says in one of the clips, as others look on and laugh.
In an interview with the New York Post, executive director for the Theta Tau Central Office Michael Abraham called the footage “troubling,” but expressed concern for the welfare of the brothers seen on camera, saying they’re scared for their lives.
“They have been identified on social media, and due to the university having leaked this video to the press, they are now endangered,” Abraham said. “…Theta Tau will fulfill the role that we would have expected of the university — we will educate them”
The chapter later released a statement online essentially excusing their behavior as “satirical.”
“Not to make excuses for the content of the video, but hopefully to make those who have been hurt by this video understand that Theta Tau is not a hate group in their midst — that we are not a house full of bigots or those willing to tolerate bigotry,” the statement posted online read.
The fraternity chapter further explained that the parody was a “satirical sketch of an uneducated, racist, homophobic, misogynist, sexist, ableist and intolerant person.”
“Our organization would never demand, or even ask our new members to recite any of this,” the statement read. “We spoke to the new members about their actual beliefs shortly after their parody and we all agreed that those words should never be spoken — in our house, or anywhere.”
According to student newspaper The Daily Orange, Theta Tau is the fourth fraternity to be suspended during the 2017-18 academic year. The fraternity’s official website and secret Facebook page where the videos were uploaded have since been deleted.
Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud deemed the videos “extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic and hostile towards people with disabilities.
“I’m appalled and shaken by this and deeply concerned for all members of our community,” Syverud said in an email blast to students. He noted that SU’s Department of Public Safety is now investigating the incident to identify the students involved and could take additional legal and disciplinary action.