Syracuse University: Student Orientation Leader Suspended for Coordinating Voluntary Scavenger Hunt


Syracuse University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

On December 16, 2022, Syracuse University found student Orientation Leader Eriendeep Uppal responsible for hazing and “threaten[ing] the mental health of others” for helping plan a campus scavenger hunt. Students testified that the event was completely voluntary, and Syracuse presented no evidence that anyone was physically or mentally harmed by the activities. Despite this lack of evidence, Syracuse suspended Uppal until the 2023 summer term and imposed a litany of other sanctions. On December 22, FIRE wrote to Syracuse explaining how the university’s commitment to free speech protects Uppal’s right to host expressive events such as scavenger hunts. We called on Syracuse to rescind its punishment of Uppal.

On January 13, 2023, Syracuse sustained its disciplinary finding, but reduced the sanctions by deferring the suspension and rescinding most of the remaining penalties, allowing Uppal to graduate in August 2023.