#NotAgainSUspended: Latest sit-in prompts student suspensions
#NotAgainSU new protest prompts suspensions
#NotAgainSU, the black-student led movement, staged its first sit-in of the spring semester in Crouse-Hinds Hall Monday. Protestors said the occupation of Syracuse University’s main administration and admissions building was intended to call attention to the failure of school officials to meet demands outlined during the original Barnes Center sit-in this past November.
Organizers and supporters gathered in the building early Monday afternoon in an effort to apply pressure to the administration to meet their demands. The group released an initial statement through their social media pages, reiterating their original demands — including the resignations of several SU administrators including Chancellor Kent Syverud, Department of Public Safety (DPS) Chief Bobby Maldonado and DPS Associate Chief John Sardino by this Friday.
Although the occupation is a peaceful protest, tensions rose as the clock struck 9 p.m. and Crouse-Hinds was set to close. Then SU Student Experience senior vice president Robert Hradsky notified protestors that they would be placed on interim suspension from the university if they did not leave the building by the time it closed.
Some individuals left, but a few dozen who stayed were handed conduct violation notices by the Dean of Students Marianne Huger Thomson, according to a live broadcast being streamed from the #NotAgainSU Instagram page.
When students questioned why staying overnight was allowed when occupying the Barnes Center last semester, Hradsky responded that the administration had decided to suspend the rules at that time as there weren’t the mechanisms in place then “as there are now” to address these types of situations.
As the doors of Crouse-Hinds were locked with DPS officers blocking the entrances, the #NotAgainSU protestors reached out for student support through their social media.
“Protestors inside Crouse-Hinds Hall have just been told they will be suspended due to a code of conduct violation,” noted a statement shared on the organization’s Instagram. “We are asking everyone to bring a friend and come outside and make noise! Make everyone aware of what is happening.” Instead of using their trademark #NotAgainSU hashtag, they ended the post with an updated version: #NotAgainSUspended.
View this post on Instagram
#NotAgainSU protesters inside Crouse Hinds Hall have just been told they will be suspended due to a code of conduct violation. We are asking everyone to bring a friend and come outside of outside and make noise! Bring cardboard to stand on, blankets to cover yourself in, and bring your signs! Make everyone aware of what is happening! #NotAgainSUspended #FreeCrouse
In response, as many as 50 students organized outside of Crouse-Hinds Hall in support, attempting to communicate with those inside through the window, according to the Twitter feed of Citrus TV reporter Conor Wight.
When one student tried to bring a pizza for those inside Crouse-Hinds Hall, they were told that outside food was not permitted.
As the students of #NotAgainSU remain in Crouse-Hinds Hall despite conduct warnings from staff and administration, they’ve made their goals in protesting clear.
“We want to continue to hold them accountable,” one student organizer who asked not to be identified said. “We’re tired of having them sugarcoat things or try to be adamant that there is systemic change, when there clearly isn’t. We want to see our list of demands fully implemented.”
The #NotAgainSU movement clarified the intentions of their protest in their official statement on social media, stressing that the motivation was to force the administration to address their complacency.
“We have stated time and time again that this movement is not about isolated incidents of hate, The administration has proven its complacency in the spreading of the nationalistic ideology,” the official statement read. “This movement is about changing the systems of oppression that are upheld and protected by the administration at this university. Even after the signing of our demands, the administration has continued to be complicit in their handling of the 25+ hate crimes that have plagued our campus. Not only have their current measures been inadequate, but they have already violated the commitments that they publicly made.”
A senior student organizer of #NotAgainSU who asked to not be named said the group wants the administration to take action based on the demands that they agreed upon.
“We are tired of the lack of transparency,” they said. “We’re occupying the space right now, trying to push for change, trying to accelerate that process and get more of the things that we want accomplished to make the whole campus better.”
Members of the administration refusing to address hate crimes that have happened on campus this semester are making the situation worse, said the student organizer.
“How can you fix the problem if you don’t state what the problem is?” they said. “When the university consistently says that they’re going to do things or make statements but then don’t, how can we feel confident in the administration?”
Students who were organizing alongside #NotAgainSU agreed that there is a lack of action on the administration’s behalf, including advertising junior Isabella Leon.
As someone whose freshman year was marked by the hate crime scandal at Theta Tau, Leon said she’s especially disappointed in the current situation.
“Nothing happened, nothing came of that, and that’s very frustrating for me,” Leon said. “It’s not going to be over until something changes.”
Leon, like many of the other students present, sat with her friends in Crouse-Hinds on Monday afternoon, socializing, doing homework and even eating during the sit-in. Some students wore #NotAgainSU-branded hoodies to show their support.
By late afternoon organizers took to the front of the room to restate the demands from last semester that have yet to be met, as well as the opening statement that organizers posted, calling for immediate action from the administration.
“I’m not surprised [that the demands have not been met],” said another student protestor who asked to not be identified. “It’s not acceptable. I’m so happy to hear that people of #NotAgainSU haven’t lost their momentum.”
The senior in SU’s writing department came with her two toddler-aged children in order to make sure student voices were heard.
“From my perspective, [the university] hasn’t taken a systemic effort to give power to students in general, the most disadvantaged students particularly,” she said. “I’m here to support the students who are taking leadership to put pressure on the administration again.”
The current occupation of Crouse-Hinds Hall is the second protest organized by #NotAgainSU. The student activist group formed in the fall 2019 in response to a slew of racially motivated incidents beginning with the vandalism of Day Hall.
#NotAgainSU officially formed in mid-November at the Barnes Center sit-in. The movement spread their message through their social media accounts and urged students to join the occupation.
The sit-in at the Barnes Center lasted a total of eight days. Several university officials including Syverud and Maldonado came to the Barnes Center to hear students’ grievances. During the protest, students collaborated to create a list of formal demands for the university.
Syverud agreed to hear the organization’s demands at an open forum in Hendricks Chapel on Nov. 20. Three members of #NotAgainSU read their demands which included the resignation of several administrators including Syverud.
Syverud responded at the forum saying he “agreed with much of it” but that he would not sign the demands in their current state. After his refusal to sign, students began to stream out of the chapel chanting “sign or resign.”