#NotAgainSU rejects administration’s bid to end Crouse-Hinds sit-in

#NotAgainSU rejects bid to end Crouse-Hinds protest

About 20 demonstrators remain in the admissions building overnight after SU officially suspends them.
Published: February 18, 2020
DPS campus security and Syracuse University administrative faculty attempt to hold protesters back as they attempt to push into Crouse Hinds Hall on the night of February 18, 2020.
Tensions escalated between campus police officers and #NotAgainSU supporters at a Crouse-Hinds Hall entrance on Tuesday night.

With #NotAgainSU’s Crouse-Hinds Hall sit-in nearing 36 hours, protesters decided late Monday night to reject Syracuse University administrators’ demands that they vacate the campus building.

Supporters outside Crouse-Hinds announced around 11:30 p.m. that the 20 protestors inside would only sign letters ending the sit-in if Department of Public Safety associate chief John Sardino was dismissed and a meeting with Board of Trustees was arranged in the next month. Administrators negotiating with the group camped out in the Crouse-Hinds lobby apparently were not able to meet those terms.

The late-night negotiations followed a series of discussions throughout Tuesday, according to an email sent early Wednesday morning by Vice President for the Student Experience Rob Hradsky.

The email stated SU’s offers to:

  • revoke the interim suspensions for any student who voluntarily left Crouse-Hinds that night,
  • support peaceful protests during Crouse-Hinds Hall’s hours of operation with overnight protests relocating to Bird Library, another 24-hour building, and
  • schedule a meeting with the group of students on Thursday to identify the leaders responsible for addressing their new and existing concerns, as well as a timeline for meeting dates — with good faith commitment to weekly meetings through the Spring 2020 semester.

According to assistant professor of political science assistant professor Jenn Jackson’s Twitter account, the offer to drop the students’ interim suspensions and related conduct charges was contingent upon protestors also agreeing that any future violation of SU policies may result in other disciplinary action.

“After deliberation, students rejected all of these options,” Hradsky wrote, setting up a third day of the Crouse-Hinds occupation that started Monday afternoon with nearly 50 students.

Victoria Mescall

Syracuse students gather in solidarity outside of Crouse-Hinds Hall in response to the the protestors' suspension on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. #NotAgainSU protestors began occupying Crouse-Hinds Hall in response to the administration's failure to address and denounce hate-crimes apparent on Syracuse University's campus.
SU students offer solidarity outside of Crouse-Hinds Hall during the #NotAgainSU protests on Tuesday night.
DPS officers discard food donations
February 18, 2020 11:00 pm

Food donations for the protestors in Crouse-Hinds are being thrown away by Department of Public Safety officers. Protestors have been unable to bring food inside the building since noon Monday.

Students outside the building held signs reading “let food in” after several donations had been denied Monday night. The campus officers searched bags of faculty members and threw any food found outside.

DPS officers told protestors they were allowed to accept “essentials,” including medicine and hygiene products. But officers searched the “essentials” packages to prevent any food from getting to protestors.

A professor inside the building coordinated with SU Food Services to have meals brought to the protestors. DPS did not allow students inside to accept the donation.

protestors outside Crouse-Hinds crowd the entrance
Tensions escalated as DPS officers attempted to switch shifts while the protesters blocked the entrances to Crouse-Hinds Hall.

When DPS officers changed shifts, the protesters lined up to block them from entering. Protesters tried to get food into the building which led to food being thrown into the building. One student spat on one of the officers.

Syracuse Police officers were sent to monitor the situation and circled the nearby blocks in patrol cars.

Members of a SU sorority joined in support of the protest locking arms with one another. One commented on how much warmer it was than she expected it to be since they were so close together.

After the altercations, one of the organizers of the protest began speaking to those gathered outside on a megaphone.

“You have every right to be angry and you can manifest that anger in different ways,” the speaker told the crowd. “I personally think that what happened is symbolic of how they treat people inside. They treat them like animals.”

Protesters outside Crouse-Hinds stand in solidarity
February 18, 2020 5:00 pm

As of 4:30 p.m., Tuesday afternoon, about 30 students continue to occupy the Crouse-Hinds Hall lobby and its two entrances following their suspension.

Protesters outside the building have endured a day of rain and snowy mix, while they continue to voice opposition about the suspension of their peers. Chants among the protestors call for the resignation of acting SU chancellor Kent Syverud, and DPS Chief Bobby Maldonado.

“I think Syverud needs to step aside,” math education freshman Chris Holezak said. “I think he’s had his time to try and communicate with students and he’s thrown it away. They’re just protecting the administration and continuing the silencing around this issue.”

DPS officers remain at the doors and continue to not allow people to enter or exit the building without key card access. Food supplies that were dropped off outside one of the building’s entrances for the suspended protestors currently wait outside.

Faculty members stand in unison with students in protest outside of Crouse-Hinds, actively displaying their disagreement with the administration’s handling of the current protest.

Geography professor Matthew Huber and political science professor Mark Rupert came to the protest and held signs supporting #NotAgainSU saying “Lift the suspensions.”

“This is what the history of protest is, people occupying buildings and sitting in to force elites to pay attention,” said Professor Huber. “When that happens, you can’t sanction those students, those activists.”

A student presses up against a window of Crouse-Hinds Hall to speak to a friend inside.
A student presses up against a window of Crouse-Hinds Hall Tuesday afternoon to speak to a person inside.

The student activists were suspended less than 100 yards from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications where the exterior façade facing Crouse-Hinds has the First Amendment inscribed.

“I’m here because of the suspensions and because of what I think is a threat to free speech on campus,” Rupert said.

As of Tuesday morning, a petition began circulating among faculty and students calling on the administration to reinstate the suspended students. As of 4:30 p.m., the petition had more than 285 signatures.

“You can’t suspend them. They’re trying to intimidate them out of these actions. It’s outrageous,” Huber said.

Both Holezak and fellow freshman Jacob Tyler came to the protest after receiving an email with the written response from the movement.

#NotAgainSU has continued to communicate with the entire student body via their social media pages as a means of contact with the world outside the Crouse-Hinds lobby.

Their Instagram account has been constantly updating their 9,600+ followers with their demands in response to the administration’s actions, as well as videos displaying DPS and SU officials forcefully preventing students from entering the building.

Interim Vice Chancellor justifies protest suspensions in email sent to faculty
February 18, 2020 3:00 pm

In an email sent to Syracuse University faculty and students Tuesday, Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost John Liu addressed the school’s response to the suspensions given out to #NotAgainSU demonstrators occupying Crouse-Hinds Hall.

Liu outlined the sequence of events Monday night from the administration’s perspective after Crouse-Hinds Hall closed at 9 p.m. Stating that students were non-compliant after being asked to move their demonstration to another campus building open past 9 p.m., the email stated.

“To be clear: no students are being suspended for protesting, but for violations of the building occupation policy,” Liu said in his message.

The protest is what violated the occupation policy, according to the administration. Liu said he expects the circumstances of the protest to impact classrooms in the coming days.

“I have tremendous faith in your ability, as faculty, to navigate these challenges in a manner that demonstrates the values of dialogue, dignity, respect and a positive academic experience for all of our students.”

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.thenewshouse.com/wp-content/uploads/Unorganized/john_liu_letter_021820.pdf”]

#NotAgainSU responds to suspension of protestors
February 18, 2020 3:30 am

Around 11 a.m. Tuesday, the Student Association sent out a statement on behalf of the #NotAgainSU protestors to students via email.

The statement recapped some of the events from Monday, describing that students were peacefully protesting in Crouse-Hinds Hall when the administration came to notify students that they were being suspended for staying in the building after closing time.

Their response highlighted the inconsistencies between the staff’s statement to students and their response to the protestors – noting that the Syracuse student body was emailed that protestors were not being suspended, only hours before #NotAgainSU members received official interim suspension notices.

While supplying a timeline of the protest from Monday through Tuesday morning — including DPS officers becoming violent with students and protestors being denied food from outside supporters —  the statement reaffirmed that the administration was not in cooperation with students to reach a solution.

“The administration did not agree to a single demand, nor did they agree to lift the sanctions as a precondition for any “dialogue,” the statement read. “ #NotAgainSU believes that their appearance was performative, in order to say they came to “engage with students,” but then depict us as uncooperative.”

The letter to students ended with a call to action, asking that supporters “continue protesting outside indefinitely.” The names and contact information of the university administration, such as Chancellor Kent Syverud and head of DPS Bobby Maldonado, were also included in order for students to express their disappointment to campus leaders.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.thenewshouse.com/wp-content/uploads/Unorganized/NotAgainSU-Response.pdf” title=”#NotAgainSU Response”]

SU re-routes tours to avoid Crouse-Hinds Hall protest
February 18, 2020 4:00 pm

Admissions started Tuesday re-routing tours for prospective students and their families in the wake of protests led by #NotAgainSU around Crouse-Hinds Hall.

The protests began strategically on Monday’s “Orange Preview Day,” an Admissions event for prospective and admitted students.

The tours that normally begin at Crouse-Hinds Hall, now begin in the Hergenhan Auditorium inside the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

The protestors plan to occupy the space until Friday, Feb. 21, the date they have demanded Syverud submit his resignation. There is no word yet on when Admissions tours will return to Crouse-Hinds Hall.

Syracuse students gather in solidarity outside of Crouse-Hinds in response to the protestors' suspension on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. #NotAgainSU protestors began occupying Crouse-Hinds Hall in response to the administration's failure to address and denounce hate-crimes apparent on Syracuse University's campus.
A protester holds a sign in solidarity with #NotAgainSU on Tuesday.