Therefore, we do not aspire to be memorialized

While we recently marked the one-year anniversary of The Diversity and Transparency Rally and the first day of the 18-day sit-in, THE General Body began from a coalition of student groups that were already protesting multiple crucial concerns on campus. DAT Rally was the fifth rally in the fall 2014 semester, and others followed. Activism is often memorialized and deemed a part of “history” as opposed to the continuous struggle that it is. Therefore, we do not aspire to be memorialized.

TGB is not an institution. The group arose organically among hundreds of students when it became clear that the new administration and Fast Forward Initiative was making drastic changes affecting diversity, resources, and transparency between administration and SU students, faculty, alumni, staff, and the broader Syracuse community. We believe that a similar coalition could just as easily arise again, either using TGB-type model or an entirely different one. When faced with injustice, we encourage everyone to find others and rise in solidarity with them.

What’s the situation at SU now? The Syverud administration has a directive from the Board of Trustees to enact policies of austerity, all along with skyrocketing tuition costs, so they continue to proceed accordingly. Since TGB began pointing to the issues, we have seen the administration continue in the same manner as regards numerous concerns on campus. We are working on compiling data and information to the best of our abilities. But as a sampling: we know that SU is back to having only one psychiatric provider (as yet another provider left Health Services months ago and has not been replaced);  the SU administration announced a change to the faculty travel policy purportedly without faculty input, over the summer; administration has been coercively pushing staff and faculty to leave, as well as firing faculty mid-contract, and then refusing to discuss it. In some ways the SU administration may have become even more secretive than when we first brought the issues of non-transparency to the forefront.

TGB wasn’t perfect. Working via consensus and collaboration, intending to do away with hierarchy, and in high-stress situations, is wonderful yet challenging, and we made mistakes — people were unintentionally pushed out, less visible and/or less represented, or could not find their home in the midst of coalition work. The university administration also worked to undermine solidarity, attempting to ‘befriend’ or isolate certain members, and by addressing certain issues, while ignoring others just as crucial.

While TGB has been less publicized, we continue to work from within our own circles and connections. The work hasn’t simply ended because we are no longer in direct communication with the campus at-large.

Please help us compile an in-depth update. We invite you to look into each of the original Grievances and Needs and analyze the current status of them. And please keep sending your grievances related to SU to We’re keeping track!

Keep fighting, keep healing!

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Update: Summer at the Corporate University


As you may have seen in SU Today and on, Chancellor Syverud and his administration have continued to institutionalize their corporate prerogatives after many left campus for the summer. You may recall that last year, soon after the school year ended, Syverud closed the campus Advocacy Center, with no warning and no faculty governance processes–and remarkably, there is still no timeline in place for reinstituting sexual assault services.

Over the past month and a half, the following major changes have been announced, foreshadowing what is at work behind the scenes:

1. Board of Trustees. Steven W. Barnes, the new Chair of the Board of Trustees is a Bain Capital director (the company founded by Mitt Romney) and serves on the Boards of Blackhawk Group Holdings (oil and gas) and Securitas (a security services company). Despite the administration’s lip service to democratic processes and fossil fuel divestment, Barnes’s appointment shows their true allegiances.

2. Layoffs/Cuts. At a Faculty Senate meeting where faculty passed a resolution to support THE General Body, Syverud alluded to layoffs happening over the summer. Last week Syverud announced via the SU Today newsletter that SU would be offering a “voluntary separation incentive program,” in which staff whose age + years of experience add up to 65 or over now are eligible for the “option” of quitting their jobs and receiving a lump sum equivalent to half of their yearly salary. Sources have told TGB that at least one dean has been instructed to lay off staff, and each department has been instructed to institute cuts. So, it appears that this “voluntary”program is one step away from layoffs. TGB received the following messages from employees who are eligible:

“I’m eligible for this buyout but do not expect to take it… I am young enough that I do not need “to spend more time with family” but I am too old to “pursue a new professional endeavor or to begin retirement.”

“Even if I did want to start a new venture or career, the time frame that they are giving staff to make the decision is pathetic… roughly 30 days and then there is no guarantee how long you will remain on payroll when you do accept their offer. The announcement reads “Separation from service dates will be determined in accordance with operational needs of the schools, colleges and administrative units and generally will be phased in between mid-August and December 31, 2015.” How do you plan your next venture with that clear as mud offer?”

3. Wasteful spending. Meanwhile, in a moment of great timing, a article has announced the 20 highest-paid employees at SU, revealing that many upper-level administrators and coaches are making between $500,000 and $2 million per year. Ironically, another piece cites a 2014 Bain Consulting report that revealed 200 managers at SU are directly overseeing only one person. The university will also be spending big money on new turf for the Dome, one of many construction projects visible on campus.

4. Endowment is over $1 Billion. What would you do with one billion dollars? Syverud is cutting more jobs and programs: “After his first full year at the helm of Syracuse University, Syverud has made it clear, both on and off campus, that great change is coming. Some of it will not be comfortable. Layoffs on campus and cuts to programs in the community are likely as Syverud shifts the university’s focus from community outreach back to research on the hill.” As justification, Syverud cites that beginning in 2012 SU “began to suffer a budgetary shortfall” with expenses exceeding revenues. The total of this shortfall over three years was 21 million dollars. Syverud has used this fact to justify cuts in programs and layoffs, but IRS reports obtained from the Daily Orange show that SU added 127 million dollars to its endowment from 2012 to 2013 alone. In fact, the endowment has more than doubled since 2009 (it was half a billion then, and now over a billion). So SU has doubled its money in the last 5 years but Syverud will fire people, cut programs, and raise tuition because of a budget crisis.

5. Military-industrial complex is gaining strength. In addition to Fast Forward’s plan to increase funding to programs in line with national security interests, the new law school dean is a national security expert. Relatedly, there appear to be new security cameras at each entrance of Crouse-Hinds and one above the main lobby. Who is the administration afraid of? Meanwhile, the GSO continues to push for Syverud to investigate DPS abuses in Crouse-Hinds Hall during the 18-day sit-in, with little response from Administrators.

We say to Syverud: cuts and layoffs are not the only option! Stop this false narrative of austerity, when spending is happening all over campus! We see real leadership in University of Cincinnati president Kent Ono, who denies his bonus and donates the money to fund campus and community initiatives, and at Berea College in Kentucky, which invests the interest from its endowment into operating costs and full-tuition scholarships for all students, who then work 10-15 hours per week in work-study jobs. The endowment doesn’t have to just sit there!

THE General Body also commends the work of student activists at Columbia University, which recently announced that it would divest from private prisons.

Other news you think community members should know? Share it in the comments, shoot us an e-mail, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

In solidarity,

THE General Body

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THE General Body Solicits Information RE: SU Layoffs/ “Voluntary” Separation

We in THE General Body hope you are well! We need your help right now. As an independent group interested in the direction of SU, we need to have a full accounting of what is going on at SU, who is being fired/’voluntarily’ laid off, which departments are facing most pressure, etc. We know they are trying to do this quietly, over the summer. PLEASE EMAIL US and forward this solicitation to any interested parties, particularly staffmembers and CNY community members.
We need to gather up more information about what is going on with regards to the recently announced (so-called) “voluntary” layoffs at SU. Read more at and
Do you have insider information? Are you being asked to take this deal? Do you feel coerced? How do you feel about it? What department do you work in? Please let us know by emailing We will do our best to keep this information anonymous, if you request it.
In addition to these formally announced “offers”, we are getting reports that SU Deans and various departments are receiving orders RIGHT NOW from the chancellor to FIRE people. This hearkens back to the info we had leaked to us prior to us deciding to do the sit-in–that the chancellor and his administration had confusingly and secretly required departments to show how they would cut a large chunk out of their budget. We would like to hear more details. If you have any information pertaining to these firings, and ANY other ‘cuts’ or pressures being faced at SU, please email us at
We also want to thank you for EVERYTHING you’ve done to be part of the anti-oppression movement for social and environmental justice, at SU, in CNY, and everywhere else you go, the ways you’ve been part of THE General Body, the ways you’ve critiqued THE General Body, and the ways you take care of yourself. 
Thanks for your help. Please forward this email to those who may not be on our listserv, especially staffmembers and community members. Again, we will do everything we can to keep your information anonymous if you wish.

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Health Insurance Changes Opposed by Two International Fellows in the Religion Department

International Fellows in the Syracuse University Religion Department wrote this letter addressed to administrators involved in the decision to force grad students into a subpar insurance plan. Due to student activism, the administration has stalled on forcing all grad students into this plan; however, many current issues remain, particularly for international students and Fellows.

To Whom It May Concern:

We are currently both fellows in the Religion Department, and both of our lives will be adversely affected by the upcoming changes in our employee health care. Because these changes will place both a financial and emotional burden on our lives, and that this burden has been placed upon us without sufficient warning or notice, I respectfully request that you respond to each point of my letter.

1)   Our decision to attend this university was based not only on Syracuse University’s quality of education, but also on the quality of the benefits package against the cost of living. The official letter from the Dean of the Graduate School to Fellowship recipients, which included an appointment contract that we had to sign to accept the award, indicates that the fellowship included a competitive health benefits plan. While we understood that the benefits package could be modified over the course of our fellowship, we did not expect such a dramatic decrease in coverage. We both received a host of offers from other institutions, and our decision was made in large part by the comprehensive offer. Had we known that we would be switched to an upcoming “gold plan” offered by AETNA, whose coverage will be much worse that the coverage offered by POMCO, we would likely have weighted Syracuse University’s offer differently. Given that our attendance at this university was premised in part on the previous benefits package, we believe the University should be liable for any additional costs incurred under the new benefits package. Namely, if the previous plan offered a $40 co-pay for what will now be a 20% liability on our part, we believe the university should pay for costs over the $40.

2)    The above-mentioned letter from the Dean of the Graduate School also states, “Fellows are expected to devote full time to study and research and are expected to do no other work during the years when they are receiving fellowship support”. With the new insurance plan carded to take effect on August 1, 2015, if fellows are hospitalized, for instance, instead of paying a fixed copay under the previous SU plan, they will incur significant costs from a coinsurance payment, which, because of the one aspect of our contractural agreement which we assume you won’t be changing, won’t allow us to offset such payments through additional employment.

3)   The above-mentioned letter from the Dean of the Graduate School also says that “Syracuse University Fellows are eligible for University subsidized medical and prescription drug plans, including dental services” – The new Aetna Student Health Plan does not include dental or vision benefits – according to the FAQs posted on the SU Health Services website, students will be required to incur the cost of dental insurance by themselves. Is this not a breach of our contractual agreement?

4) Our frustration is compounded by the fact that the University did not provide us with ample warning of these upcoming changes. The University signed an agreement regarding our healthcare coverage, and apparently negotiated our benefits, without consulting the medical needs of the students that would be affected. This lack of transparency, and the fact that the University is still lacking all of the details of the new plan, has added a considerable emotional strain on the part of all Fellows at a particularly important time of year.
While we understand that our continued participation in the current employee benefits plan is illegal per IRS regulations, the University should provide Fellows with a comprehensive package equivalent to the current employee health plan.

Fu Cong & Fatima Siwaju

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Join THE General Body Tomorrow to Support Reverend Dexter


Local community and religious leader Dr. Rev. Lemorris Dexter is currently in jail awaiting sentencing on bogus charges incurred after police attacked him and his wife, Alisha, in their front yard on Jan. 4, 2014. He is facing up to one year in jail for “obstructing governmental administration” and “disorderly conduct.”

Rev. Dexter leads the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church and is the President of the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He is a tireless advocate for poor and oppressed people from all walks of life.

Rev. Dexter was targeted because he is an outspoken leader who doesn’t back down in the face of intimidation. But this isn’t just an attack on one man, it’s an attack on an entire community.

Please join us as we gather to support Rev. Dexter on the Friday before his sentencing at 12 p.m. outside the  Onondaga County “Justice” Center at 555 S. State St. THE General Body will meet at Hendricks Chapel on the SU campus at 11:15 a.m. to walk there together. See the Facebook event here.

This event is being supported by: Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Syracuse Answer Coalition, THE General Body, and more.

For more information, or to endorse this action, please contact

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Letter of Support from Syracuse University Alumni

At the end of last semester, alumni began drafting a letter to the chancellor. While some details have changed due to continuing student organizing and continuing cuts and unilateral decisions by the university administration, we appreciate the alumni support for the movement and want to share it with everyone.

December 2014

Dear Chancellor Syverud,

We are writing you as alumni of Syracuse University, and soon-to-be alumni, to express our deep concern about your leadership of Syracuse University, a university we chose to attend because of its academic and ethical excellence. During our time as graduate students there, we experienced SU as a place where we did not just learn about the topics we chose to study, but where we were also encouraged to think critically; our commitment to social justice was thus valued and fostered. The commitment to social justice was not only valued as necessary for the world but also as part of academic excellence within the university.

We collectively denounce the decisions you and your administration have agreed to, which have negatively affected people of color, women, people with disabilities, other minorities, and the environment. The closing of the Advocacy Center; defunding the POSSE program; the lack of an advocate, not simply an ADA coordinator, for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities; the refusal to divest from fossil fuels and approve tenure and promotion policy despite the mandate from the student body are our major grievances.

In the wake of the recent decisions to not indict officers for the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Aiyana Jones, it is glaringly obvious how much work we have to do before institutional racism is eliminated. We find it deeply disturbing that this institution of Syracuse University, which was making important strides to address the pervasive and structural inequality on the campus of SU as well as in the city of Syracuse, has backtracked under your leadership.

We collectively ask you, is this really “leadership”? Teaching students with your example to unquestioningly obey authority, to be passive in the face of injustice, to ignore structural and institutional problems and violence? We denounce not only the message you and your administration have sent via the above-mentioned actions, but your concrete actions that have gone against the basic rights of the students. We denounce using force, surveillance and intimidation tactics to respond to students who participated in the sit-in and contacted you about these issues, denying the General body legal counsel, etc.

Many of us are now professors in other universities and we have watched the students at our alma mater, accompanied by many of our respected professors, do what is every educator’s dream – apply their knowledge and put themselves on the line to demand what they know to be right. The sit-ins at SU have ended, and we applaud the increase in TA pay, the agreed-to search for an Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator and the additional 11 student positions to 7 Fast Forward workgroups. We applaud the activism of the students, faculty and staff who have collectively demanded and negotiated these changes and we recognize your role in accepting them.

But we say to you – there is more to be done. We wish to send you and your administration a clear message that your alumni are watching. Not just the ones who have signed this letter, but many others who support what we have stated in their own way. Our interactions with the university will depend on how these issues continue to be addressed. We hope that you will rethink what it means to lead a university, the history and trajectory of Syracuse University in particular, and the opportunity and responsibility that the university has to work to eliminate institutional and structural inequality.


Dana Hill, PhD 2014, Gender Consultant, Ecuador, Adjunct Professor
Griselda Rodriguez
Jesse Harasta, Ph.D. (’13), Visiting Professor, Cazenovia College
Juliann Anesi
Rebekah Orr
Alexandria Barabin Harris
Tina Catania, M.A. (’10), PhD Student, Geography Department
Anya Jacobson Stranger, PhD candidate Social Science
Kelly Szott
Holly Kathryn Norton, PhD 2013 106 Compliance Manager, Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
Kassahun H Kebede, PhD 2012 Assistant Professor, Southwestern Oregon College
Laurah E. Klepinger-Mathew, PhD Candidate, Anthropology Department, and LEO Lecturer, University of Michigan, Flint
Zachary J. M. Beier, PhD Candidate, Anthropology Department, and History and Archaeology Department at The University of the West Indies at Mona, Kingston Jamaica
Lauren Hosek, PhD Candidate, Anthropology Department, and Adjunct Lecturer SUNY Brockport.
Carolina Arango-Vargas, PhD candidate in Anthropology
Hayley Marama Cavino, PhD candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education
Madhura Lohokare, candidate for PhD, Department of Anthropology, Syracuse University
Lindsey Kingston, Assistant Professor of International Human Rights at Webster University
Vivek Srinivasan, Stanford University
Liz Mount, candidate for PhD, Sociology Department, Syracuse University
Heather Pincock, Assistant Professor of Conflict Management, Kennesaw State University
Katie J. Wells, Virginia Tech
Payal Banerjee, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Smith College
Emily Billo, SU Alum, Dept. of Geography, PhD, 2012.
Brent Olson
Umut Ozkaleli, Assistant Professor, Zirve University
Linh Nguyen, PhD Candidate in Anthropology

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Suggested Fast Forward Strategic Plan Comments: Due April 10th!

We have compiled suggested comments you can make to the Fast Forward Syracuse Academic Strategic Plan’s comment period. They’re for pasting in the comment boxes (for people who don’t have time to write up their own comments) through the link sent for commenting on the academic strategic plan draft (they go in order). Here’s the Fast Forward Proposal. They gave the community only 8 days to submit! Submit your comments here!

  1. The Student Experience

In order to “sustain an inclusive, accessible campus of opportunity for a richly diverse student body, including international students, students with disabilities, and underrepresented students,” SU needs to fund programs like Paris Noir and POSSE that support students of color. Expanding important programs like Intergroup Dialogue, creating campus wide diversity requirements in academic curricula, and having gender-neutral single occupancy bathrooms in all buildings would also support these goals. Hiring faculty and staff from marginalized social groups is also important to this end. The University should give proper funding to the LGBT Resource Center, including an accessible entrance. All SU non-academic units that work to support and create community among underrepresented students should propose a budget for their optimal situation, and this budget needs to be seriously considered by the administration. Additionally, SU must at the very least maintain its current level of needs-based scholarships to allow students from lower-income backgrounds to attend, rather than move towards a merit-based program, which Chancellor Syverud has made very clear he intends to do. Additionally, hiring more mental health care professionals and mandating comprehensive affirmative consent training for all students, including graduate, would be important steps toward “[nourishing] the whole student to ensure academic, social, and emotional well-being.”

  1. Discovery

To “cultivate young scholars, including undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars,” students have to be able to afford to stay enrolled. This means affordable healthcare with vision and dental, limits on how many course sections TAs have to teach, a living wage for TAs/RAs/GAs and adjuncts, and family care for students employed by SU who have children. Providing better working and living conditions would also help “attract outstanding doctoral students.” Providing more funding for students to travel to conferences would “facilitate professional growth and networking opportunities.” Students also need to feel that they have the support of the entire campus, which means harassment and marginalization cannot be the norm. Racial, misogynistic and homophobic slurs can be heard daily on Euclid Avenue. SU must address the culture of rape at SU head-on and design materials that do not victim-blame, as the current Student Handbook on Sexual Assault does.

  1. Internationalization

To “cultivate and sustain an international community of scholars,” international students have to be able to afford health care. This is not possible for many international students with the recent changes to graduate student health care. International students need more support in other forms as well. It is no secret that SU seeks to admit more and more international students who will pay full tuition; however, these students have very few support services at SU. This amounts to exploitation. Training to better prepare faculty and graduate teachers to teach international students would also be beneficial. If it wishes to address “security challenges facing the region,” the Law School should “cultivate and sustain” programs that empower and train future leaders to address pertinent civil rights, social justice, and general human rights issues. Regarding the reinstatement of the Paris Noir SU Study Abroad program due to student activism, yes, this helps “facilitate distinctive global learning experiences.” Having a consistent set of standards by which these programs run is important. Paris Noir was allegedly cancelled due to ‘low enrollment’ this year, yet other SU Abroad programs are going with as few as 8 students. Finally, the University would do well to focus more on engaging the local community by addressing pressing issues facing one of the most racially-segregated and poorest regions in the country before jumping to “expand our global footprint” by investing “in select regions that are of strategic significance to the University.”

  1. Veterans’ Affairs

The University’s concern with developing and enhancing research in military affairs and national security is profoundly troubling and raises serious concerns about just what type of “global footprint” SU is trying to have. While we fully support veteran support and access to attendance at SU, strengthening the military-industrial-academic complex is not our idea of “preparing engaged citizens, scholars, and leaders for participation in a changing global society.” As an alternative, we encourage the university to prioritize job-training and skills-building that fosters a commitment to equity, social justice, and accountability.

  1. Innovation

“Empowering faculty, staff, and students to address the complex demands of our communities and world” requires having better staffed cultural centers and actively recruiting students of color, LGBTQQI students, students with disabilities, students from low-income backgrounds, and indigenous students. Additionally, the University needs to make a concerted effort to hire faculty and staff from marginalized social groups, increase funding to departments that address issues of racial and economic injustice, and honor Indigenous People’s Day.

  1. One University

To be “recognized as a model employer” SU should pay GAs/RAs/TAs, adjunct faculty, staff, and undergraduate student employees a living wage, provide better family care, and recognize a graduate student union. The Fast Forward Initiative’s emphasis on excellence, status, and competitive advantage at the expense of any inkling of an educational institutions’ responsibility for facilitating positive social change is disconcerting to those of who uphold education as a means of fostering a more socially just society. As the Fast Forward Initiative barrels along, many of us fear SU is rapidly moving in a direction antithetical to the ideal of the University as a public good.

  1. Other Comments

The overall lack of transparency throughout this process has been seriously disconcerting. While the University has made an impressive effort to accord Fast Forward a veneer of transparency, on the whole the Academic Strategic Plan offers minimal concrete and substantive recommendations and reveals an alarming lack of concern for social justice issues at the university, community, and society more broadly. Allowing the SU community to comment on a condensed version of the plan that contains no tangible recommendations for change does not qualify as meaningful, democratic participation. This condensed version also leaves out many of the troubling details that were presented to the SU community during the open forum several months ago.

Responding to “the challenges of the day” means putting the need for socially-just education at the center of what it is that we do at SU. As a first step, we encourage the administration to respond to students’ grievances and needs as laid out in THE General Body’s comprehensive document of student concerns. Students had to sit in for 18 days to have any kind of input on the Fast Forward plan (of which only six undergrads were part of prior to the sitin), and even then, were only allowed in a couple of the meetings that had been going on for months, preventing any meaningful impact. As part of the Fast Forward plan, we ask that you include an explicit commitment to student input on decision-making and implementation of this plan. We also urge you to take immediate action on the four druggings at the SU Law school, which still have not been publicly acknowledged, as a demonstration of your concern for the student body.

“Maintaining pride in our location and history” means recognizing Indigenous People’s Day and taking responsibility for SU’s relationship to the city of Syracuse and global influence. When we talk about “impact,” we need to make sure that we’re talking about positive impact, not contributing to the concentrations of capital at SU (e.g., the over $1 billion endowment), which has nonprofit status and thus does not pay taxes in the city of Syracuse. Including a commitment to diversity and the university as public good is a symbolic move in this direction.

The following is a direct quote from the Fast Forward forum: “the most successful universities will change quickly in the face of these external challenges – they will be highly and continually innovative – [the] culture of boldness, risk-taking, innovation will trickle down and enrich lives of students, faculty, and broader community.” We suggest instead that SU move away from the language of trickle-down economics and adopt an ethic of reciprocity, collective decision-making (via meaningful student representation and not just in lip-service), and accountability to the Syracuse community.

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