Syracuse Graduate Employees United condemns the Syracuse University fraternity Theta Tau’s racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, ableist, sexist rhetoric, which made national news today after it was made public via a YouTube video released by the Daily Orange.
This video is an acute example of a pervasive hateful climate that many undergraduate students and graduate workers face as educators and researchers. The ideologies in the video persist in the everyday spaces where we study and work. Graduate workers whose identities were attacked in this video interact with these very students in classrooms, labs, and office hours. A working and learning environment free of bigotry and hatred is critical for student success. Such an environment is no less crucial to graduate workers than wages and healthcare.
Many of us work in higher education because we are committed to social justice. This video demonstrates the difficulty of doing justice-oriented educational work in a climate that normalizes oppression. Every day we witness the struggles of students as they navigate this Predominantly White Institution, and a city whose District Attorney’s response to the offensive video amounted to a suggestion that the fraternity should have done a better job hiding the video.
We celebrate the histories of student resistance to oppression on campus, from the May 1970 student strike against U.S. aggression in Vietnam, to 1985 protests in solidarity with anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, to the 2014 occupation of Crouse Hinds Hall by THE General Body. Yesterday, students at Syracuse forwarded this rich tradition by reasserting a commitment to justice in the face of Theta Tau’s hateful rhetoric.
We are in solidarity with students who protested on campus this week calling on SU to release the video, pushing for accountability by the Syracuse University administration, and drawing attention to the fact that the video represents a much larger pattern of hatred and bigotry within our campus community and nationally. Students facing this challenge should know that they are not alone. We support and stand with the RECOGNIZE US MOVEMENT and #RecognizeUsSU. We also celebrate local organizing by groups that fight oppression that crosses campus and community, including Black Lives Matter, the Workers’ Center of Central New York, the Palestine Solidarity Collective, and Syracuse Tenants United.
Theta Tau students should be held accountable for their reprehensible behavior, and students across campus should be held accountable for all racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, ableist, sexist rhetoric, no matter the context. Students at Syracuse University have rightfully protested the utter insufficiency of existing administrative accountability. SGEU supports student action to demand justice at Syracuse University.