Syracuse University: Ban on all fraternity social activity


Syracuse University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

On November 17, 2019, in response to the alleged use of a racial slur by members of a fraternity and amidst several other racist incidents on campus, Syracuse University suspended all social activities of every Syracuse fraternity for the rest of the fall 2019 semester. Despite the administration admitting that “only one fraternity may have been involved in this particular incident,” and several eyewitnesses claiming that no Syracuse fraternity member uttered the slur, Syracuse is proceeding with a ban on all fraternity social activities. On November 22, FIRE wrote to Syracuse, calling on the university to uphold its commitment to freedom of association by ending its collective punishment of student groups not suspected of any misconduct. SU did not respond to FIRE’s letter. 

One of the suspended fraternities, Alpha Chi Rho, sued SU in June 2020, asserting that there was no evidence the slur was used, and that the university violated the chapter’s due process rights by punishing the group after initially clearing the students of wrongdoing. In March 2021, a New York Supreme Court judge overturned the suspension, finding that SU’s decision “has no rational basis” because the university ignored its own disciplinary procedures when it punished the group without evidence of misconduct.