Tayla Myree started her day on Wednesday, April 18 like many other students at Syracuse University: debating whether or not she should go to class. Scrolling through Twitter before making her final decision, Myree noticed that her timeline was cluttered with tweets about Theta Tau, a national engineering fraternity with a chapter at Syracuse.
“I was like, ‘What Theta Tau are they talking about? It can’t be the engineering frat Theta Tau,’” Myree said. She checked her email. Waiting in her inbox was a statement from SU Chancellor Kent Syverud to the student body, a message that would spur Myree and other students like her into action. She decided not to go to class — she had better things to do.
Myree is one of the founding members of Recognize Us, a student activist group on campus that aims to increase inclusion and diversity on campus. The movement formed in reaction to the revelation that some brothers of Theta Tau created and distributed incredibly offensive videos that Syverud described in his email as, “extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities.”
The Theta Tau videos made apparent the problems of representation at SU. In the immediate aftermath of Syverud’s email and the firestorm around the University’s refusal to release the videos, SU students sprang to action, organizing a campus-wide forum on Wednesday. Within hours of the original news, these students had established Recognize Us.
While Theta Tau has been permanently expelled and the videos were eventually released by The Daily Orange, SU’s independent student newspaper, Recognize Us hasn’t slowed down. Syracuse’s culture of hate, they say, goes deeper than Theta Tau.