Syracuse University suspends fraternity activities after latest racist incident

Members of a fraternity were connected to an incident where a black student reported being subjected to a "verbal racial epithet."

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By Doha Madani

Syracuse University has suspended all fraternity social activities Sunday after members of one chapter were connected to an alleged racial epithet, only the latest incident in a string of racist episodes at the New York state college.

A group of fraternity members and their guests allegedly subjected a black student to a "verbal racial epithet" Saturday night, according to a statement from Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud. The incident is among several attacks on marginalized communities at the school, including other racial slurs spoken and in graffiti around campus.

Syverud said that while it was only one fraternity connected to the incident Saturday, he ordered all fraternity social activities to be suspended for the rest of the semester.

"While only one fraternity may have been involved in this particular incident, given recent history, all fraternities must come together with the University community to reflect upon how to prevent recurrence of such seriously troubling behavior," the chancellor said in his statement.

Syracuse's department of public safety compiled "substantial evidence" in Saturday's incident, including security camera video, and are working with police in their investigation.

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The recent series of racist incidents at the campus began on Nov. 6 when slurs against African Americans and Asians were reported at the student residence building Day Hall, according to Syracuse's student newspaper The Daily Orange, which was first to report the news.

Renegade Magazine, which describes itself as a platform for black college students, also said it involved the N-word.

"On Wednesday, Nov, 6, in Day Hall, not only did someone take out all the light fixtures and put them in the toilets, they wrote the N-word across the bathrooms on both floors," Renegade Magazine said in an Instagram post earlier this week.

It appeared that the incidents increased in frequency after Thursday, when racist graffiti against Asians was found in a bathroom in a school building and a swastika was discovered in the snowbank at an apartment complex where students live, according to the Daily Orange. Then a campus-wide email revealed another anti-Asian slur was found again in Day Hall.

Three other incidents were reported Saturday in addition to the incident connected to the fraternity.

A Chinese student filed a report saying he'd been called a racial slur as he exited a residence hall on Friday night. And an anti-Asian slur and a swastika were found in separate occurrences at a different campus residence, Haven Hall, according to the Daily Orange.

Syverud said in his statement Sunday that a university donor offered a reward for evidence leading to suspects in the vandalism cases.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to the news in a statement Monday where he said he directed the state's hate crime task force to assist the university's investigation.

"I'm disgusted by the recent rash of hateful language found scrawled on the walls at Syracuse University, where students from around the world are drawn each year in the pursuit of higher learning," Cuomo said.

Students also staged a sit-in Wednesday with signs directed at the chancellor saying, "Where is Kent?" They submitted a series of demands to administrators, including that any student involved with the recent hate crimes be expelled, the school's current anti-harassment policy be revised, new staff and faculty undergo mandatory diversity training and the option for same-race roommate selection on housing applications for all students.