Syracuse University students on Wednesday protest a video made by members of a now-suspended fraternity showing racist and sexist behavior. (Lindsey Sabado/Syracuse Newspapers/AP)

Syracuse University students are calling on school officials to do more to address a “toxic Greek environment” after revelations that fraternity members made videos labeled by Chancellor Kent Syverud as “extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities.”

Syracuse suspended Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity, after some of the videos became public. It was, according to the student-run newspaper the Daily Orange, the fourth fraternity suspended from the university this academic year:

SU announced the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity’s suspension last week after a months-long investigation into hazing. SU suspended Alpha Epsilon Pi in February for conduct that threatened the safety of a student participating in the new member process. The SU chapter of Delta Tau Delta was suspended in fall 2017 for conduct violations that included hazing.

The Daily Orange obtained the Theta Tau videos, which were posted to a private Facebook group. It initially released one, sparking the crisis engulfing the campus. Syverud sent a campuswide email Wednesday, saying: “I am appalled by this and deeply concerned for all members of our community. The conduct is deeply harmful and contrary to the values and community standards we expect of our students.”

But students say officials must do more. An editorial by the student newspaper’s editorial board said in part:

As the leader of the university, it’s time for Syverud to address a campus that is reflecting on a deeper, pervasive cultural issue that reached a tipping point after The Daily Orange released the video. The video isn’t surprising — it’s a manifestation of microaggressions, rumors, whispers and outright acts of hatred marginalized students encounter in their time at SU. The only difference between this display of prejudice and so many others that go unnoticed at the university is that someone recorded it, and it got out.

The behavior depicted in the video isn’t an isolated incident. It’s the byproduct of a toxic Greek environment that breeds complicity in exchange for social validation. And now, more than ever, students don’t need a campus-wide email that makes a poor attempt at damage control. SU must act in solidarity with its students to make institutional adjustments, which will need input from the campus community — and students especially — to make sure the momentum doesn’t stop here.

The university’s Department of Public Safety is trying to identify who was involved in making the videos and may take legal and disciplinary action, Syverud said.

The student newspaper described some of the content on the videos like this:

In recordings obtained by The Daily Orange showing the videos, which were filmed in Theta Tau’s house, a person forces another person to his knees and asks him to repeat an “oath” including racial slurs. . . .

Several videos filmed in the house were uploaded in the secret Facebook group. In one recording, a person, using anti-Semitic language, yells at two other people.

The trouble at Syracuse came a day after authorities at California Polytechnic State University indefinitely suspended all fraternities and sororities after photos were made public showing a fraternity member in blackface and others dressed as gang members, the Mercury News reported.

Here is the full editorial by the Daily Orange’s editorial staff. Alexa Díaz, editor in chief, gave me permission to republish it. You can find the original here.

Kent Syverud wasn’t there.

As hundreds of Syracuse University community members filled Hendricks Chapel on Wednesday night to express their anger, fear and frustration in response to a vile video that led to Theta Tau’s suspension from SU, the university’s leader was absent.

Syverud attended a campus meeting in Hendricks Chapel facilitated by Hendricks Dean Brian Konkol at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in response to the suspension, which came after the chancellor’s campus-wide email condemned the video as “extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities.”

Syverud was at a University Senate meeting later that afternoon, where he saw students leave the room after their voices were cut short. But he wasn’t in the room to listen to hundreds of concerned students, faculty and staff Wednesday evening when most community members were out of class and work.

As the leader of the university, it’s time for Syverud to address a campus that is reflecting on a deeper, pervasive cultural issue that reached a tipping point after The Daily Orange released the video. The video isn’t surprising — it’s a manifestation of microaggressions, rumors, whispers and outright acts of hatred marginalized students encounter in their time at SU. The only difference between this display of prejudice and so many others that go unnoticed at the university is that someone recorded it, and it got out.

The behavior depicted in the video isn’t an isolated incident. It’s the byproduct of a toxic Greek environment that breeds complicity in exchange for social validation. And now, more than ever, students don’t need a campus-wide email that makes a poor attempt at damage control. SU must act in solidarity with its students to make institutional adjustments, which will need input from the campus community — and students especially — to make sure the momentum doesn’t stop here.

Students showed up. They protested. They led conversations in Hendricks. Student Association President James Franco called for an audit of Greek life to “re-evaluate its impact on the campus community and its value.”

SU students have questions. The Daily Orange answered #WheresTheVideoSU. But we’re all still waiting for the administration to answer the next question: #WheresKent.

The Daily Orange Editorial Board serves as the voice of the organization and aims to contribute the perspectives of students to discussions that concern Syracuse University and the greater Syracuse community. The editorial board’s stances are determined by a majority of its members. You can read more about the editorial board here. Are you interested in pitching a topic for the editorial board to discuss? Email opinion@dailyorange.com.