The VICE Guide to Right Now

Frat Bros Behind Racist Video Sue School for Jeopardizing Their 'Success'

Five suspended Theta Tau brothers say the school is "branding them as racist" after their frat used slurs and mocked disabled people in offensive videos.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Screengrab via The Daily Orange / YouTube

Last week, Syracuse was rattled by the release of two horrifying videos that appear to capture members of an engineering frat taking an oath to hate "n*ggers, sp*cs, and most importantly the fuckin' k*kes," and mocking a disabled person's "light rape." The school responded by expelling the frat and suspending 18 of its members, but now five Theta Tau brothers are suing the school for "injury to their reputation," reports.


In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the unnamed students—all members or pledges of Theta Tau—accused the school of "branding them as racist, anti-sematic [sic], sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities." It argues that the school "selectively commented on snippets" of the videos, which were meant as a "satirical sketch." As a result, the lawsuit states, the students have suffered from "ridicule and scorn."

The videos, each met with howls of laughter by members of the audience, capture what the lawsuit claims was "a time-honored Chapter tradition that builds unity by satirically and hyperbolically depicting brothers." In videos of the alleged "roast" that the school's paper, the Daily Orange, published last week, the brothers make Holocaust references, pretend to be disabled, and simulate forced oral sex—all apparently as a bonding exercise.

"He's drooling out of his mouth, because he’s retarded in a wheelchair," someone is heard saying in one of the videos mocking a disabled person's sexual assault. "Yankee is totally unaware of this light rape that’s occurring."

Still, now it seems five members involved believe they're entitled to damages from the school for "threatening their academic success and survival," according to the lawsuit. Aside from asking for $1 million apiece, the five unnamed students have demanded that Syracuse put a halt to the disciplinary proceedings against them and let them back into their classes.


For its part, the school has been clear about its thoughts on what went down—regardless of its context. In a school-wide email, Chancellor Kent Syverud slammed the videos as "extremely racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities," and Syracuse's associate vice president for communications, Sarah Scalese, is standing behind the students' suspensions.

"The University stands by the actions it took to protect the well-being of the campus community and maintain a respectful and safe learning environment," Scalese said.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.

Related: Bro Culture, A Capella, and the Frat House Legacy