We are inspired by the student groups organizing on the Syracuse University campus for diversity and transparency (a summary of their grievances, taken from their website, is below). Their movement embodies principles of inclusivity, democratic participation in one’s community, care for others and direct action in support of the public good.
At a time when it is common to hear complaints of youth apathy, we commend these students for their dedication and thoughtful action, and we call on the chancellor and the administration to respond to the substance of student demands with meaningful dialogue and action. Having inscribed the words of the first amendment on the walls of Newhouse III, it would be particularly hypocritical for SU’s administration to repress the rights of students to freedom of speech and to peaceably assemble.
The Syracuse community has a long history of social movment organizing and civil disobedience to further peace and social justice. As organizations committed to continuing that organizing tradition for a more just and equitable future, we stand in solidarity with the organizing work and demands of The General Body, a united front of student organizations at Syracuse University.
For more background and the 43-page document of grievances and demands see www.thegeneralbody.org.
Signed by Syracuse Peace Council, Syracuse Greens, Syracuse Community Choir, ArtRage Gallery, Peace Action of CNY, Bread and Roses Collective House, Westcott Neighborhood Association, SEIU 1199, Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN), Central New York National Organization for Women (CNY NOW), Move to Amend of Syracuse and Central New York, Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc.
(any organizations that wish to sign on to this should contact email@example.com
Summation of grievances (copied from www.thegeneralbody.org – note that this is a living document and in process):
It has become apparent to many in the student body that the Syracuse University administration has made a series of closed-door decisions that were neither accurately nor fairly communicated to the campus community, and were executed without respect or regard for the will of governing bodies such as the University Senate or the Student Association. This lack of transparency can be seen in:
- the closure of the Advocacy Center
- the decision to not divest from fossil fuels (divestment was passed by overwhelming majorities in the SA and US)
- the defunding of the POSSE program
- the lack of diverse student representation in FastForward and in other administrative decisions in general
- the rejection of the University Senate’s proposed tenure and promotion policy in May 2014
The student body also recognizes that issues of privilege and discrimination are pervasive on campus, yet unrecognized by the SU administration. Ultimately, students with marginalized identities feel unsafe and unsupported at SU. The student body recognizes that these are not personal problems to be borne by the individual, but structural problems which the administration has a responsibility to address in order to ensure the safest campus possible. This lack of support for diversity can be seen in:
- violent and derogatory language that is normalized within and beyond the classroom
- that no senior administrator has gone through the CARE or SPSS diversity trainings
- that many faculty are the perpetrators of microaggressions and macroaggressions, and that those with tenure can not be compelled to complete any sort of training
- the lack of a Yes Means Yes policy
- that the SU Title IX Coordinator has not gone through extensive enough sexual assault advocacy training
- the lack of accessible services and facilities for students with disabilities the lack of accessible gender-neutral bathrooms on campus
- the disconnect between students and DPS
- the vast limitations of current mental health support systems
- that the depth and urgency of these issues are misunderstood by the senior administration