Theta Tau attorney files complaint against Syracuse University with U.S. Dept. of Ed.

Local News

The attorney representing several Theta Tau fraternity members has filed a complaint against Syracuse University with the U.S. Department of Education. 

Karen Felter, who is also representing five of the students in a lawsuit against the school, confirmed the filing. 

In a statement to NewsChannel 9, a spokesperson for the Dept. of Ed. said their civil rights department evaluates all complaints it receives.

No investigation into the University by the department has been opened. 

The fraternity made national headlines last month when controversial videos of the students making offensive remarks in a private initiation ceremony were released.

The fraternity later clarified the comments were part of a “satirical sketch.” 

The complaints filed with the Education Department stem from the University’s handling of conduct hearings for the students. 

“The Department of Education rules state every part of the hearing process must be independent,” Prof. Gregory Germain who has been serving as a procedural advisor to the students said. “The hearing panel must be independent. The advisor to the hearing panel must be independent. Each party is entitled to have equal rights in the process” 

Germain said that has not been the case. He added students are being accused of sexual harassment violations, which would constitute a Title IX hearing.

The Department of Education has established guidelines for how colleges must handle Title IX cases. 

Germain said SU could lose federal funding if they are found guilty of violations. 

“It’s a terrible abuse of process,” Germain said of the manner SU has conducted the hearings. 

Conduct hearings are expected to finish for students by early next week. 

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