After Students Protest, Syracuse University Chancellor Agrees To Their List Of Demands In Response To Campus Racism
After facing withering criticism from the Governor of New York, officials at Syracuse University are finally stepping up to deal with a rash of racist incidents on campus.
Update (November 21, 2019): Syracuse University students walked out of a forum in response to a series of racist and anti-semitic incidents that have taken place on campus within the last two weeks, reports NBC News.
Students of varying ethnicities chanted "sign or resign" in the wake of school chancellor Kent Syverud saying he would be unable to completely accommodate a list of demands from students related to the bigotry which has plagued the campus.
"I do not agree with everything I've heard," Syverud said of the demands. "I do not agree with all the facts said."
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A protest took place later that night in a video captured on Instagram Live by Renegade Magazine Syracuse University in which students could be seen and heard chanting "Nazis go home."
By Thursday morning, NBC News reports Syverud signed off on the majority of demands as shown by Renegade.
In addition to addressing necessary punitive action for students spewing bigotry, the list of 19 demands also placed heavy emphasis on a more diverse academic curriculum and faculty. Sixteen of the demands the chancellor agreed to as they were written whereas the remaining three would require some emendation.
Prior to the signing, students of the Not Again SU movement were urging the resignation of four top school officials, including Syverud if they did not consent to the students' requests.
Additionally, on Wednesday, Syverud announced that four students who partook in yelling racial epithets at a Black student were suspended from the university according to CNN. Five of the 14 students involved in the aforementioned incident were Syracuse students whereas the others were from other colleges and universities. Whether the remaining Syracuse student has been disciplined is unclear at the time.
NBC reports the sit-in, which began last Wednesday in protest of the incidents, is still ongoing.
Original story (November 20, 2019): Officials at Syracuse University are finally stepping up after weeks of withering criticism from terrified Black and minority students, faculty and alumni who say a month full of repeated racial incidents have left them fearing physical attacks or shootings.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ripped the school in The New York Times for their weak response to bigotry on campus. The anti-Black, anti-Jewish and anti-Asian incidents have caused the campus to nearly shut down. The governor released a longer statement bashing school officials on Twitter.
“They have not been handled in a manner that reflects this state’s aggressive opposition to such odious, reckless, reprehensible behavior,” Governor Cuomo told the newspaper on Tuesday. “That these actions should happen on the campus of a leading New York university makes this situation even worse.”
Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud took ownership of the problem and provided a detailed list of solutions just one day after the governor's comments.
In a statement posted to the school's website on Tuesday, Syverud said the school finally understands the severity of the situation and added that they "operate in a fraught national climate."
"A series of deeply troubling incidents involving hate speech directed at African-American, Asian and Jewish students have occurred in our community over the last 10 days. Two groups of students—those who have held space in the Barnes Center since Nov. 13 and international students—have expressed concrete concerns related to the environment for diversity and inclusion on our campus," he wrote.
"One clear conclusion from discussions over the past days is the need for better communications and transparency about programs, resources and other efforts that are already in place or underway," he added.
He released an 11-page document put together by the school that resulted from a week of meetings with student and community leaders. They addressed the many concerns of Black students and international students, promising a litany of changes to diversity efforts at the school.
The incidents have varied in scale but together have left the entire Syracuse campus paralyzed with fear, especially the school's Black students who have protested by conducting a sit-in at the school's Barnes Center at the Arch.
The racist attacks began more than two weeks ago on November 7 when students found racist graffiti in Day Hall dorms targeting minority students. Since then, unknown people have drawn swastikas in the snow, threatened to put Jewish professors into ovens and spray-painted racial slurs directed at Black people. Syracuse students and faculty members have cataloged all of the racist incidents using the #NotAgainSU hashtag.
On Tuesday morning, students studying in a library were air-dropped a manifesto about white genocide that was previously circulated by the New Zealand mass shooter earlier this year.
The school shut down all fraternity social events for the entire semester on Sunday after a Black female student said members of Alpha Chi Ro shouted n****r and other racial slurs at her as she walked past their house on Saturday night. That was the sixth reported incident in the last 10 days.
Last year, 18 members of a fraternity were suspended after a video leaked of Theta Tau members making racist, sexist and anti-Semitic remarks.
There have been dozens of other incidents directed at Black and Asian students as well as international students this month.
🚨🚨PLEASE RETWEET🚨🚨— Clarke (@clarkethethird) November 13, 2019'
HERE’S THE REALITY OF SYRACUSE
On Wednesday, someone in Day Hall, went to the 6th floor, took down the light fixtures in bathrooms and wrote the N word on mirrors and trash cans. They then went to the 4th floor and wrote an Asian slur across a...
Using the hashtag, dozens of professors and thousands of students have slammed the school.
I have canceled my physical class tomorrow and opted for a virtual class meeting via Blackboard's discussion board. I have also changed my meetings with teaching and research assistants to virtual (online or via phone). No one should have to be on campus right now. #NotAgainSU— Dr. Jenn M. Jackson (@JennMJack) November 19, 2019'
Black students have been leading a sit-in at Syracuse University for 6 straight days. #NotAgainSU has a list of demands for their university, including:— zellie (@zellieimani) November 19, 2019'
◾️Expel anyone involved in racist incidents
◾️Hire more counselors that represent marginalized groups pic.twitter.com/1JhNW67MtE
I do NOT feel safe.. people are posting shooter manifestos on greekrank under cuse #NotAgainSU— Yasmine (@yasminetiana_) November 19, 2019'
The professor of my 300-level-course broke down crying in grief during lecture.— Katie Knapp (@knapp_kt) November 19, 2019'
My black roommate is too terrified to leave our room on her own birthday.
This is disgusting. This is unacceptable. This is terror. #NotAgainSU
The school finally brought in police to begin investigating the incidents after a team of professors wrote a letter to the student newspaper The Daily Orange saying it was astonishing that officials continued to downplay safety concerns.
Students asked for harsher penalties, including expulsion, for people involved in hate crimes on campus, something the school agreed to implement before August 2020. They also called for a more diverse curriculum and population of professors. The school agreed to create a committee to work on both points and said they will "work constructively and proactively on this and quickly pass these reforms when they are fully developed."
Students also demanded the university require professors to go through diversity training and promise no adverse consequence to those protesting the school's actions. The school agreed to both of the demands in their statement.
The school also confirmed that it would beef up the anti-harassment policy and provide more security for minority students. They plan to spend more than $1 million on greater diversity efforts and will open four new slots for school diversity officers. According to their school's statement, they plan to allocate more funds to minority students' programs and counselors as well as a 48-hour deadline for a response to any racist incidents.
The school agreed with students that greater controls need to be put in place to regulate Greek life on campus and said they were planning to create an online portal where students could submit racist incident reports.
They plan to update students and the entire campus each month on their progress with these initiatives, the school said.
"There is extensive additional dialogue, information, programming, and process related to many of the concerns—some of which has resulted from the productive interactions of the past ten days," the school wrote in their official response to student demands. "All actions resulting from these responses will be carefully reviewed to assure compliance with applicable laws."