SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) – Five Syracuse University students have filed a suit against the university and officials after a video of a fraternity "roast" was allegedly disseminated without their consent.
John Does 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 filed a complaint on April 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York against the defendants Syracuse University, et al. alleging breach of contract and other counts.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that on March 30, they took part in a Theta Tau Chapter fraternity tradition and performed a satirical skit, or "roast," of the Theta Tau brothers. The suit states the video was privately available to members and no one else. They allege an unknown party accessed a private Facebook group, recorded the video, and sent it to Syracuse University officials and The Daily Orange without authorization or consent.
The plaintiffs allege that since the video was released, they have been labeled as "racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist and hostile to people with disabilities." The suit states they were suspended from attending classes, labs or academic functions at the school.
The plaintiffs allege the defendants denied the students fundamental fairness in the disciplinary process by failing to impartially investigate claims and follow the university's disciplinary procedures and failed to protect students by failing to take steps to reasonably protect their identities or curb a threatening atmosphere fostered by the university officials' statements.
The plaintiffs request a trial by jury and seek an injunction restoring them to good academic standing, awarding compensatory and punitive damages, costs, prejudgment interest and any other such and further relief as the court deems just and proper. They are represented by Kevin E. Hulslander, Karen Guyder and David M. Katz of Smith, Sovik, Kendrick & Sugnet PC in Syracuse, New York.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York case number 5:18-cv-00496-FJS-DEP