'Bigotry in our midst': 4 Syracuse students suspended after racist incidents

The chancellor addressed a series of recent racist incidents at the school.

November 20, 2019, 8:37 PM

Four Syracuse University students have been suspended in the wake of approximately a dozen racially charged incidents reported recently at the school.

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud said Wednesday night that those suspended have been accused of verbally assaulting a black, female student.

The "immediate issue," the chancellor said in an address to the university's Senate, "is the bigotry in our midst."

Last week, an African American female student was subjected to a verbal, racial epithet from a group of students and visitors to the campus, according to a public safety notice posted on the school's website.

The student, according to the notice, "reported being verbally harassed by a large group of individuals who reportedly were yelling the 'N-word' as she walked by. There was no physical altercation."

As a result, a fraternity that the university said was involved in the incident, Alpha Chi Rho, had its social activities suspended for the rest of the semester, the chancellor said. He also said that all fraternities' social activities had been suspended for the duration of the semester.

In another on-campus incident, a swastika was found drawn into the snow, Matt Malinowski, a Syracuse Police spokesperson, told ABC News.

Racist graffiti was found inside a residence hall earlier this month, The Associated Press reported.

The most recent incident happened on Monday. There were reports of students in the school's Bird Library receiving a white supremacist document via AirDrop -- an iPhone app for transferring files.

That incident, Syverud said on Wednesday, is being investigated as a possible hoax.

PHOTO: Signs hang on the wall marked with the Twitter hashtag #NotAgainSU as the response by Syracuse University administration to the racist incidents in Syracuse, N.Y., Nov. 19, 2019.
Signs hang on the wall marked with the Twitter hashtag #NotAgainSU as the response by Syracuse University administration to the racist incidents has prompted days of sit-ins at university buildings and a flood of online critiques, in Syracuse, N.Y., Nov. 19, 2019.
Maranie Rae Staab/for The New York Times/Redux

"To date, there have been 12 cases of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti found on or adjacent to our campus. From my conversations with Department of Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado from earlier today, the indications are that there are between one to five members of our community perpetuating this hate speech in our buildings and on our walls," Syverud added.

He also said that the school was partnering with the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force and the New York State Division of Human Rights.

The case involving the African American female student has been referred to the Onondaga County District Attorney.

In his remarks, the chancellor shared his own personal experiences with racism.

"I do understand it," he said. "While raising a mixed-race family in the South, my kids were threatened, my wife was subjected to many racial epithets, our car tires were slashed, and my kid's dog was shot."

"That was then, that was the South," he continued. "But this is Syracuse. This is 2019. I do not accept this hatred here and now."

ABC News' Jason Volack contributed to this report.