Faculty, graduate students express concerns about administration
Faculty, graduate students express concerns about administration
As protests continue, graduate students began their own strike and SU faculty members have expressed concern with the university’s handling of the occupation at Crouse-Hinds.
Despite the administration characterizing the sit-in as “disruptive,” faculty said the protests have allowed for beneficial discussions on structural racism and how to change the campus climate.
In a #NotAgainSU Instagram livestream of Chancellor Kent Syverud Friday morning, the chancellor referenced a statement released by the Maxwell School’s faculty, who expressed interest in being more involved with the protests so they can be part of the solution.
In addition, Syverud reiterated his sentiments from Wednesday’s University Senate meeting, saying there would be no suspensions of the students or any consequences for the sit-in that started Monday.
Vice President of Student Experience Rob Hradsky made an appearance on Thursday night when students had concerns about the building’s operating hours, which close over the weekend. Crouse-Hinds reopened Thursday after two days of restricted access. Students and faculty were locked out from joining the protest which also prevented protestors from receiving donations of food and supplies.
The protestors intend on occupying Crouse-Hinds throughout the weekend, despite concerns about the building being closed.
On Friday, DPS notified students of a brand new bias incident that took place the day prior in a bathroom on the fourth floor of Day Hall. The incident involved homophobic graffiti and officers filed the report at around midnight Friday morning.
The total number of bias incidents on campus has now reached 29, but the frequency of these events seems to be decreasing as the previous incident reported by DPS was on Feb. 8 – 12 days prior to this one. It is also the eighth bias-related incident at Day Hall, accounting for about 28 percent of the total incidents.
Day Hall is primarily a freshman dormitory along with Flint Hall located on “The Mount.” Flint Hall has only experienced one bias-related incident. The only other dorm to have had more than one bias-related incident this school year is Haven Hall.
DPS has had no other updates regarding this particular incident but encourages students to notify them with any information that may pertain to the investigation. Additionally, students file reports on the STOP Bias website. Reports are investigated only if “the reporter chooses or if the nature of the incident requires DPS involvement.”
From Crouse-Hinds to the University Senate, from a digital petition to classroom discussion, some of SU’s faculty members are actively engaging with the student-led #NotAgainSU protests.
Eileen Schell, a professor of writing and rhetoric, began a faculty – which shortly began a school-wide – petition that called for the suspensions to student protestors to be lifted. The petition, which now has more than 500 signatures, is comprised of students, staff and faculty alike.
“I am appalled at how harshly the (administration) has treated these student protesters,” Mark Rupert, professor of political science, said in an email. “It is outrageous in so many ways, it’s unfair to individual students, perpetuates racial divisions at SU and poses a real threat to free speech on our campus.”
Rupert, in addition, said that the university’s administration leaves many questions unanswered, which points “to major failures of leadership across the whole upper administration,” for which the university should be accountable.
Crystal Bartolovich, an associate professor of English and the president of SU’s American Association of University Professors (AAUP), echoed similar sentiments. Her job, she said, is to ensure free speech on campus, a right which the administration has violated. The administration, she said in an email, “needs to stop relying on public relations staff for internal communications.”
“To use Sarah Scalese to answer the question in Senate about what transpired in (Crouse-Hinds) sends the wrong message: that spin and appearance are more important than a frank and complex address to the issues,” Bartolovich said.
In the University Senate meeting Wednesday night, Scalese denied that protestors never received food, saying that the students declined the meals offered to them by the university. Students in the meeting claimed the food was conditional on their compliance with university officials’ wishes.
In the meeting as well, Professor Biko Gray questioned the university’s use of the term “disruption” to characterize the protestors. Dr. Dana Olwan, an assistant professor in the department of women’s and gender studies, said that the protests have not been a disruption. Instead, she said, they have shed light on issues the campus faces.
“If anything, the protests have made it clear that we cannot continue to carry out our learning and teaching activities in an environment in which issues of racism and injustice are dealt with only at the abstract and theoretical levels,” she said in an email.
She added that they are a reminder that the community “must engage the real-life implications and consequences of racism, inequality, and injustice on members of our community.”
Not only have the protests not disrupted classroom settings, but they have given an opportunity for discussion. Rupert said he’s “skeptical” of the narrative of disruption and safety used as a reason to suspend protestors.
He added that his students have “engaged in deeply thoughtful and honest discussions” about the events on campus and how they can make the community better. As a teacher, he said, he feels he has a responsibility to teach about racism in society and how that structural racism was created.
“Our school has been badly damaged by this and we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen,” he said. “Before this, I thought the demand for resignations of top admin might have been too extreme. Now I’m reconsidering that view.”
As Pride Union kicked off its 18th annual Drag Show Finals Thursday night, the organization showed support for the #NotAgainSU movement.
As the lights went down and the music started thumping in Goldstein Auditorium, the statement “Pride Union stands in Solidarity with #NotAgainSU” was revealed on stage. The message was received with enormous applause and cheering from the near-capacity audience.
During the intermission at Pride Union’s Drag Show Thursday night, Justine Hastings and Ryan Golden came on stage to promote their campaign running for president and vice-president of Syracuse University’s Student Association.
A key aspect of their platform is ensuring support and promoting equality for students from marginalized groups.
“We feel like students at this university have been told time and time again to wait, to wait, to wait. We think it’s time to stop waiting,” Golden said.
“Our campaign mission is that we’re going to support the #NotAgainSU movement, international students, Jewish students, indigenous students and other marginalized communities on this campus, instead of waiting for some hate crime to occur to listen to their needs,” Hastings said.
On Thursday, graduate students issued a statement to strike in solidarity with #NotAgainSU and in response to the administration’s handling of the protests.
The call to action states that graduate students “can no longer stand by while the administration at Syracuse University targets the student activists of #NotAgainSU with a coordinated campaign of misinformation and political suppression.”
As of 1:30 p.m. Friday, there were 156 signatures of graduate students that will be on strike.
A 360-degree video filmed inside Crouse-Hinds Hall on Thursday during the fourth day of the #NotAgainSU protests.