SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – Disciplinary hearings were held last week for 15 students involved in a racist and sexist fraternity video at Syracuse University. An SU professor advising three of those students at the hearings said it was not an open and fair process.
SU law professor Gregory Germain said the Theta Tau videos that were leaked to the public, were offensive skits, ill-considered and intended as jokes for other frat members as part of a roast.
“Regardless of what you think of the skits, the important thing is that these kids get a fair hearing,” Germain said.
That is what he said did not happen. The hearing board was made up of administrators under Chancellor Kent Syverud and Germain said Syverud condemned and characterized the videos as racist before they were made public. Germain said those statements were added into evidence after the hearings, without giving the students an opportunity to object or question them.
“The chancellor has rushed through this process in two weeks to complete the investigation, bring all the charges and have a hearing,” Germain said. “The three administrators who are on the hearing panel are in a very difficult position because they are under a lot of pressure from the administration to reach the result the chancellor wants them to reach.”
Germain said the students should have been able to make their case to an independent panel of tenured professors.
Syverud updated the university last week saying two students accepted a proposed sanction. The hearing board is deliberating on what actions to take against the other students.
“The chance of getting a fair result is slim,” Germain said. “I’m hopeful that these three administrators can rise above the political aspects of the case and issue a fair opinion, but I’m not holding my breath.”
He said a decision could be made soon and it is likely the punishments may not be publicized.
Last month, SU expelled the Theta Tau fraternity from campus and five students involved with the videos filed a lawsuit against the university, saying the administration rushed to judgment.