Chancellor agrees to more demands while Barnes sit-in disbands
More agreements signed as Barnes protests end
On Thursday evening #NotAgainSU protestors issued this statement on social media outlets in response to the events that unfolded during and after the Hendricks Chapel community forum.
Organizers said they will continue to call for the resignation of Chancellor Kent Syverud and top SU administrators and that the eight-day occupation of the Barnes Center would end.
Chancellor Syverud met with Jewish students Thursday to discuss and sign more recommendations, following an announcement in the early hours of the morning that he had agreed to 16 out of 19 of #NotAgainSU’s demands.
The newly signed recommendations include ensuring security cameras are in working order, understanding individual groups’ unique security concerns, and recognizing Judaism as an identity.
In an email, Syverud wrote, “Working with our students to strengthen this community remains my top priority.”
He also attached a pdf of the recommendations which displays 15 student signatures and his own.
“Implementing these recommendations is the right thing to do,” the email stated. “They will make our community stronger.”
The remaining three demands require minor revisions for legal reasons or SU Board of Trustee approval, Syverud’s email stated.
Also, Syverud said he was meeting with Jewish students later today.
Review the Syverud’s signed agreements with international students and #NotAgainSU demands.
Chancellor Kent Syverud’s signed agreements with international students.
Chancellor Kent Syverud’s signed agreements with #NotAgainSU demands.
Outside Chancellor Kent Syverud’s house on Comstock Avenue, Department of Public Safety officers directed traffic as hundreds of students spilled into the street late Wednesday night.
A rolling series of chants continued from “Black lives matter” to “Asian lives matter” to “Not Again SU.” Red and blue lights flashed while DPS blocked off the road and Syracuse Police officers arrived on the scene.
One student took the bullhorn to tell everyone to head back to the Barnes Center. “We’re going to occupy!” he yelled.
The protesters then reversed course and marched back across campus all the way to Barnes Center. Inside a packed first floor lobby, students were instructed to gather what they needed and prepare to stay over for seventh night in a row. Protesters also called for more water and food to be brought to the Barnes, and were answered with stacks of water bottles and towers of pizza. Supplies flowed in as the number of protesters continued to grow in the following hour.
Shortly after the opening of a forum tonight that many hoped would begin to heal a campus scarred by a string of hateful incidents against minorities, hundreds of students walked out of the forum calling for Chancellor Kent Syverud to resign.
Chanting “sign or resign” in reference to a list of demands from #NotAgainSU student protesters, the protesters left a packed Hendrick’s Chapel to head to the chancellor’s house and eventually to reoccupy the Barnes Center, the new $50 million facility that has been the hub of student protest for the past week.
Syverud tried to argue at the forum that he has already agreed to many of the protesters’ demands and will agree to more after further consultation with the protesters, his staff and the university’s board of trustees.
But it was clearly not enough to to satisfy the protesters as well as many others who stayed behind for the rest of the forum. Speaker after speaker told Syverud and his senior staff that the university has been too slow, too weak and too muddled in its response to the incidents themselves and in making sure students were safe in the aftermath.
One staff member of color who said she recently came to SU from New York City said she has never felt less safe than she does on the SU campus. A student asked how the posting of a racist manifesto based on the writings of the mass murder in Christchurch, New Zealand, did not constitute a threat to campus safety.
Few seemed satisfied with the responses from Syveryd, his head of public safety and other SU administrators who spoke in response.
With the #NotAgainSU protestors’ Wednesday deadline approaching, Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud issued responses to each of the demands the student movement has publically requested during the weeklong sit-in at the Barnes Center.
Also, Syverud announced that a community forum on safety and student concerns was scheduled for Wednesday night at Goldstein Auditorium. The forum has since been moved to Hendricks Chapel at 7 p.m. in accordance with #NotAgainSU’s demands.
Continued reports of racist incidents over the weekend meant many Syracuse University students weren’t afforded their usual two-day reprieve from the stress of classes and academics.
Instead, a different pressure rested upon the shoulders of the student activists organizing and participating in #NotAgainSU’s sit-in, many of whom spent the weekend demonstrating, hosting a variety of notable university and governmental figures, and continuing to pressure SU to meet their demands.
Though the final week of classes before Thanksgiving break began Monday, the activists remained relentless in their pursuit of acknowledgment and change, and have remained a constant presence at the Barnes Center throughout the day. Students furiously completed homework assignments on the floor of the Barnes Center, even late into the night over the weekend. Many went straight from sleeping in the Barnes to their Monday courses and promptly returned after dismissal.
Much of the recent national coverage of the demonstration focused on the suspension of fraternity social events on SU’s campus for the remainder of the semester. Meanwhile, #NotAgainSU announced Monday on their Instagram that the scope of their cause extends far beyond frat parties, stating: “Focusing on greek life minimizes the importance and value of this protest … This is not a greek life issue but an entire student body issue.”
Other coverage has been more comprehensive. At 5 p.m. Monday evening, CNN’s Anderson Cooper reported on the sit-in. The coverage was broadcast on CNN’s online show, Full Circle, and covered multiple facets of the sit-in.
The student representative, who remained unnamed for her safety, spoke about the environment on SU’s campus over the past 10 days and the fear underrepresented and minority communities have felt as a result. At the same time, she highlighted the support she feels at the Barnes Center, saying, “The amount of love that there is in the sit-in and in the space right now is incredible, and that isn’t being broadcasted nearly as much as it should.”
View this post on Instagram
We’ve been inspired by the support from groups across campus and are grateful for the response from the student body. Going forward, we just want to remind everyone to stay focused on our original mission. In order for #NotAgainSU to grow in power and make change, we must stay consistent with our purpose. #NotAgainSU
Protester’s entered their fifth day at the sit-in Sunday on the heels of another racist incident. Talk circulated in the morning about Chancellor Kent Syverud’s email announcing that SU has suspended all social activities of fraternities for the rest of the semester and that the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity was suspended after members and guests were involved in a racist verbal assault at College Place Saturday night.
Protestors seemed content with the administration’s actions but focused on larger issues, such as receiving a response from the administration on their list of demands. One protestor commented on how support for the movement and attendance are affected by classes, saying that the community ought to be more important. They added that VPA’s Department of Transmedia canceling classes Tuesday from 2:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. to attend a forum on the list of demands is another favorable step.
There were approximately 100 people at the sit-in when State Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter spoke to protestors. She said she understands why the students are at the sit-in and how they feel, adding that it’s great to see diversity among the students in the room. She applauded the protestors for their work and said she had read the list of demands. Hunter remained at the sit-in for a short time after speaking to students one-on-one. Meanwhile, the crowd continued to grow.
Department of Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado visited #NotAgainSU’s sit-in at the Barnes Center today to address concerns surrounding the issue of policing. Activists were concerned about multiple facets of DPS’ work, including their presence at the sit-in and their role in the ongoing investigation into the recent bias-related incidents, which currently have no suspects.
The students expressed a myriad of concerns with DPS, as well as Maldonado’s responses to their questions. One student activist interjected: “We came with a list of demands. I’m not yelling at you I’m just frustrated. Everything that you’re saying, we’ve heard before. Right? Like it’s probably scripted, like, what are you doing differently?”
The students also expressed concerns around the DPS officers present at the sit-in, including why the officers present were not in uniform, and how they were selected to staff the sit-in specifically. Chief Maldonado ensured the students that the officers were in street clothes in order to minimize perceptions of a power imbalance and that no officer present was in the space to surveil the students. Instead, he shared that the officers staffing the sit-in were selected on account of their dispositions.
Additional questions surrounded issues such as DPS officer training, which officers were armed and with what, and the presence of officers in the residence halls. Chief Maldonado assured the students that DPS would continue their efforts to apprehend any guilty parties.
“This is a fast-moving issue, and it’s unfortunate that it’s happening. Nobody’s more upset and angry about it than I am,” Maldonado said.
The students, many of whom have spent the past three nights sleeping on a tile floor, seemed unconvinced.
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens, and City Council President Helen Hudson all visited the Barnes Center today to speak to student activists as #NotAgainSU’s protest continues. All three spoke to the bravery and efficacy of the students, commending their passion reminding them that their role in changing Syracuse and the world does not end on November 20.
Mayor Walsh spoke first, applauding the students’ work and commitment to the cause while remaining regretful the work ever needed to be done. He urged students to remain steadfast in their work, even as reports of bias-related crimes continue.
“You know why you’re here and you know we’re gonna see them again. So just keep fighting the fight. And again I want to say how sorry I am.”
After Mayor Walsh, Deputy Mayor Owens addressed the crowd with a rousing call to action.
“The best way that you can fight this disease is to register and vote… because we have to vote this virus out of every level of government,” remarked Deputy Mayor Owens. “There’s time to turn over tables and pump out fists and pull out torches, and there’s time to get to the table and be very strategic.”
While all three spoke passionately about the importance of the student’s activism, they also expressed remorse for the fact that work like this still must be done in 2019.
City Council President Helen Hudson spoke to this end, saying: “We are still at this point where we have to beat it back. And the only way that we can beat it back is that we have to stand, we have to continue to do what you’re doing, you have to continue protesting wrong because it is wrong, we won’t stand for wrong, and we will all fight together.”
After the three spoke, the floor was opened for a question and answer section. The students inquired about the leader’s support for their demands, as well as asking about city-wide issues. The leaders expressed their fervent belief in the students’ cause and engaged with them on a variety of topics such as policing and work study for students at City Hall.
The three leaders demonstrated commitment and thoughtfulness in their discussion with the activists, whose agreement was often heard through snaps, applause, verbal affirmations. The discussion was an energizing moment for a protest reaching its 80th hour. As the sun began to set over the Barnes Center, so did the gravity of the work being done. Through the course of the fourth day, leaders from the SU community, city of Syracuse, and State of New York had all engaged with ever-growing movement, proving the momentum behind the sit-in shows no evidence of slowing.
The fourth day of #NotAgainSU’s protest began with visits from New York state assemblyman William Magnarelli and state senator Rachel May. Both shared their respect for the students at the protest, as well as their devastation that the crimes had taken place.
“I’d like to know who did this,” Magnarelli said “I’m sure we all would.”
He emphasized his commitment to cooperate not only with the demands of the protesting students, but with the administration of the school, and any law enforcement involved in the investigation.
Before taking questions, he remarked “Honest and truly it breaks my heart to be here on this issue. Breaks my heart”
After opening the floor, students asked Magnarelli what he could do as a politician to ensure that events like these don’t occur again at SU or elsewhere in the state. They inquired about mandating universities have protocols for hate crimes, how SU can support with the surrounding area, which is among the most impoverished and segregated communities in the nation, as well as what public schools can do to eliminate hate and bias in students before they get to college. The assemblyman noted that Syracuse University is a private school, which limits the state’s capacity for intervention, but that policies like these were something that needed to be looked at.
Senator May spoke next. After commending the thoughtfulness of the demands and the work being done by the students, she assured them: “the administration is definitely listening to you and hearing you loud and clear.” The senator noted that the student’s activism was already working to change the culture and policies of SU, and encouraged students to press on despite the reality that “this administration has been slow and ungraceful” to adequately listen to and support underrepresented students.
May was eager to read the finalized list of demands, having seen drafts, shared that she agrees with “most of them but not all of them” and would prefer to “have a conversation about it” before formally pledging any support. She specifically signaled hesitancy towards a demand which appeared on early drafts of the list asking for an option on the housing application to request a roommate of the same race. The demand has since been revised, and in its current incarnation asks for a housing portal students can use to select find roommates with similar interests.
The Barnes Center had only been open for 30 minutes, in which time both the Assemblyman and Senator had finished addressing the students and left the protestors to settle into the sit-in’s fourth day. The demonstration continues, and student organizers remain vigilant in their quest for change and acknowledgment from the University.
#NotAgainSU has finalized their list of demands, which have been refined over the course of the past week in response the four hate crimes recently committed on SU’s campus. The full statement is as follows:
1. Different punishments for different levels of involvement, including expulsion, for every student involved with the hate crimes committed in Day Hall, and any other incidents of racism that have occurred since, that are found to violate the student code of conduct;
2. SEM 100 reform led by a diverse group of students and faculty to curate a curriculum that accurately addresses diversity issues in the 21st century and how they are influenced by history;
3. Institute a clause in new faculty and staff contracts that requires mandatory diversity trainings, as well as new diversity hires. Current faculty and staff who are not tenured should have to attend new diversity trainings;
4. We would like to engage with the administration to strengthen or clarify the current anti-harassment policy regarding the use of abusive, threatening, or harassing hate speech to deliver the message that targeted use of hate speech is unacceptable;
5. A housing portal (such as My College Roomie or Roomsync) should be implemented as an option in the roommate selection process to allow future residents to choose a roommate based on mutual interests and identities, as well as the expansion and promotion of multicultural learning communities (LC’s) to more residence halls on campus, including upper division and mixed-population communities;
6. In order for the Office of Student Living (OSL) to properly implement housing changes, OSL should be allocated more funding for RA training, programming and other multicultural events in the dorms;
7. Agree to hire more counselors that better represent all marginalized identities on campus and more counselors with language fluency before the Fall 2020 semester begins, allow students to select their own counselor and enhance any current diversity & inclusion training, mandatory for both new and current counselors;
8. Agree to the development of a building for multicultural offices, including scholarship offices, organizations, and programs, moving the existing offices for students of color to this new location. This building should exist as a headquarters for these programs and offices; however, we would like to see these offices and programs represented across campus;
9. Agree to allocate necessary funds to support current students of color in alleviating financial burdens;
10. Individual Diversity be added to the factors considered when admitting students to colleges through the intra-university transfer process; #NotAgainSU
11. Agree to the allocation of a minimum of $1 million for the creation of a unified, required curriculum that educates the campus on diversity issues, specifically anti-racism;
12. Monthly updates about every long-term demand be sent via email, publicized through Syracuse University media outlets, and the development of a website where demand updates can be tracked by the public;
13. Make the diversity training status of tenured professors readily available through this public website;
14. Syracuse takes initiative to equalize treatment of multicultural Greek Life and acknowledge the unique challenges multicultural Greek life faces;
15. The university agrees that when racially-motivated incidents which impacts the larger campus community occur, Administration will respond within a maximum of 48 hours;
16. We demand consistent levels of engagement from the Chancellor with minority communities, specifically a mandatory annual State of the University Address as it relates to the student of color experience;
17. Syracuse University expands and invests in student volunteer opportunities to better serve underserved and low-income communities in the city of Syracuse.;
18. The university agrees that there will be no consequences or sanctions arising for students who are participating in the sit in as a result of their participation in the sit in.
The document expands upon the demands as well, offering further justification for demands one, six, seven, and nine. The demands were shared aloud by representatives from #NotAgainSU, before being published on social media.
A Black Lives Matter teach-in began at 10pm Friday, the first of many signifiers that this lesson would not be like the others taught here at SU. A panel of alumni, many of whom were part of THE General Body SU in 2014, and current students, several of whom were Skyped in and projected on a monitor typically used for checking students into the Barnes Center, offered a masterful lesson in activism, organization, and change-making.
Acknowledgement was the theme of the night. The lesson began with the acknowledgement that Syracuse University rests on land stolen from the Onondaga Nation, a note made particularly poignant by the reminder that all of these hate crimes have taken place during November, Indigenous People’s month. The alumni on the Panel further acknowledged the expertise #NotAgainSU has already demonstrated when it comes to organizing. From a near constant stream of social media posts and updates, to list of demands which was crafted over the course of several days, the student leaders of #NotAgainSU didn’t need to be reminded of much when it came to effective organizing. Instead, the panel looked ahead. What would the students do if Chancellor Syverud didn’t meet their demands in five days? How can they best leverage their media presence? Who are their allies and their opponents? Who out there can still be won to their side?
The panel ended with a question and answer session. One student inquired about how the alumni had handled balancing school and health with their activism during the 18 day sit in hosted by THE General Body. The panelists laughed together, before admitting to the students that doing so is hard. It was a sobering reminder that these activists and organizers are students, with papers to write, tests to study for and brains to develop. Students who are being kept from their academic and personal responsibilities because there is racism and hate at their school.
The panelists told them to take care of themselves. Divide the labor. Prioritize the fight because it is worth it for themselves and for the next student. One panelist shared the sobering thought that she had fought so hard five years before in the hopes that students wouldn’t have to do this anymore. But the work still isn’t done, and the four hate crimes which took place on campus this week highlighted just how far SU is from completing the work.
The students tucked in for another night of sleeping on the floor of the Barnes Center, staring up at the 50 million dollar ceiling and wondering when this school will start investing in them.
In the 51st hour of the #NotAgainSU sit-in, SU Chancellor Kent Syverud appeared at the Barnes Center to address the student protesters.
Members of #NotAgainSU addressed the Chancellor in Barnes lobby with an updated list of demands. Students were packed from wall to wall listening to the Chancellors responses.
The revised demands are as follows:
- Expel any student involved with the hate crime committed on November 7, 2019 in Day Hall
- Create an open forum for students to discuss their student experience and express their expectations of their university to the Board of Trustees of Syracuse University
- SEM 100 reform led by students with support from faculty to curate the curriculum to accurately address diversity issues in the 21st century and how they are influenced by history and in some way incorporate history
- speaking on it with the university senate next Wednesday and with faculty of each college as some of the curriculum is
- To Institute a clause in new faculty and staff contracts that require mandatory diversity training as well as new diversity hires
- Revise the current anti-harassment policy to a zero-tolerance policy for all hate speech.
- Agree to offer a “same race” option for roommate selection on the housing application for all students
- Agree to hiring more counselors that better represent all marginalized identities on campus and more counselors with language fluency before fall 2020 semester begins to allow students to select their own counselor to enhance current diversity and inclusion training mandatory for current and future counselors
- Agree to the development of a building for multicultural offices, organizations, and programs.
- Agree to the allocation of at least $1 million for the creation of a unified, required curriculum that educates students on diversity issues, specifically anti-racism
- Immunity for all students involved in the protest
Chancellor Syverud was succinct in his responses to the students. Saying, “I am responsible as chancellor of the university… I am not perfect but at Syracuse University we have to get better.”
To the last demand, the Chancellor said, “My view is that participation in a peaceful protest during this dialogue should not be subject to discipline.” This remark was met with cheers and applause.
The protestors asked Chancellor Syverud if he could commit to their demands.
“I promise a response on each demand by that deadline and signed by me with my seal on it.”
After the discussion of the demands, one of the organizers took the microphone and said, “Thank you for addressing that. We will be staying here in the Barnes center until that date.”
After the Chancellor responded to the list of demands, the organizers allowed time for questions. Students asked to meet with the senate curriculum committee, and the Chancellor agreed. Another student asked if Syverud believes the university has the resources to meet their demands and if not how will they be allocated. “Resources means time, people and money,” said Syverud. “And money is not a problem.” This remark was met with a rumble from the crowd.
Another student raised the question of Department of Public Safety Officers telling students to keep the incidents in Day Hall quiet. “Will there be any repercussions toward any DPS officers that handled the Day Hall incident?” was met with huge applause.
“We need to educate people including our DPS officers that we can call things what they are,” meaning hate crimes said Syverud. “I do commit to figuring that out. I have been concerned about the delay in reporting. I am concerned if people were told to keep things quiet.”
“The important thing is people,” said Syverud. “The important thing is not the reputation of the university or hushing things up.”
As the chancellor prepared to leave, one of the organizers stood up and said, “For everyone that is here, we don’t stop now. This is where we get committed. This is where we follow up. We’ve got to be in his inbox. We’re not going to let this die down. We’re going to be here until that happens.”
That afternoon, Syverud emailed a video message to the university community saying, “I am concerned, disgusted, and outraged by recent multiple hate speech incidents.”
The #NotAgainSU sit-in has continued into its second day. Student protesters have been occupying the lobby of the Barnes Center since 10 a.m. Wednesday. Some students slept overnight on the floor to continue the sit-in.
As of this afternoon, the gofundme.org campaign has raised over $3,600 to support the cause. They have set up a snack table at the entrance to the Barnes Center. More posters and questions have been added to the walls. And students continue to organize by making posters and discussing their demands with new participants in the lobby.
They have also begun an instagram page to highlight their message.
And more campus groups have endorsed the protest, including University Union which tonight’s movie screening and encouraged students that are able and willing to join the sit in.
Dozens of Syracuse University students took to the Barnes Center at the Arch when it opened at 10 a.m. to launch a sit-in protest in response to the university administration’s handling of the racist graffiti in Day Hall last week.
Students were uniting behind the name #NotAgainSU and posted a list of demands on the Barnes walls.
Short Term Demands:
1. Expel any student involved with the hate crime committed on Nov. 7, 2019 in Day Hall
2. Create an open forum for students experience and express their expectations of their university to the Board of Trustees of Syracuse University
3. SEM 100 reform led by students with support from faculty to curate the curriculum to accurately address diversity issues in the 21st century
4. Institute a clause in new faculty and staff contracts that require mandatory diversity training
5. Revise the current anti-harassment policy to a zero-tolerance policy for all hate speech.
Long Term Demands:
6. Agree to offer a “same race” option for roommate selection on the housing application for all students
7. Agree to hire more counselors that represent all marginalized identities on campus
8. Agree to the development of a building for multicultural offices, organizations, and programs.
9. Agree to the allocation of $1 million for the creation of a unified, required curriculum that educates students on diversity issues, specifically anti-racism.
Another poster lines the wall asking, “Did we miss anything?” and sticky notes have been added to offer responses on the poster and on the other lists of demands.
Organizers gave this list of demands to SU Chancellor Kent Syverud who appeared the first time publicly, apparently heading to the Barnes Center from Syracuse International Airport after arriving back in town.
Syverud’s absence at Tuesday’s Syracuse Residence Hall Association open Forum was noted and criticized, when students chanted “We want Kent.” Posters lining the front door of the Barnes Center echoed the same sentiment.
In an email to the Syracuse University community Tuesday morning, Chancellor Kent Syverud admitted that the administration’s lack of transparency and forthrightness in disclosing the recent incident with racist graffiti and vandalism in Day Hall.
“It’s clear that the members of the leadership team should have communicated more swiftly and broadly,” Syverud’s letter read.
He asked university officials, in conjunction with the Department of Public Safety and the New York State Police’s Hate Crimes Task Force to be timely in their reporting of updates to the investigation.
Syverud noted that members of the Chancellor’s team will be present at tonight’s open forum at 8 p.m. in Lyman Hall sponsored by the SU Residence Hall Association.
“It’s our shared responsibility to make Syracuse University a welcoming, safe and inclusive learning and living environment for all,” Syverud’s letter concluded.
[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.thenewshouse.com/wp-content/uploads/News/2019/Day-Hall-Racial-Slur/syverud_letter_111219.pdf” title=”kent_syverud_letter_111219″]