I had not been aware until recently the radical and wrong-headed decisions of the new Chancellor Kent Syverud’s actions such as the unilateral decision to close the Advocacy Center.
I arrived as a Freshman in the Fall of 1989 and was met with what appeared to be an epidemic of students being raped in the first months of my tenure at Syracuse. I became active in the very vocal and successful student movement in that era bringing attention to the lack of services and the lax administration response to the problem of rape and sexual assault on the Syracuse campus. In my Junior year at Syracuse I was the President of the student group Students Concerned About Rape Education (SCARED), which was the center of this movement.
One of the most important and lasting accomplishments of that movement was the establishment of the Advocacy Center. This was not an easily won accomplishment either, but was one that was won with the constant pressure of both students and faculty impressing upon the leadership of the University that survivors needed their own space for treatment, counseling, and advocacy. Because of this, Syracuse has been looked at by other schools as a model in how to address student survivors of sexual assault.
Mr. Syverud’s decision to unilaterally destroy The Advocacy Center ostensibly with the goal of saving money and resources, especially when looked at in conjunction with his published vision for the University, causes this proud alumnus to fear for the future of my University. Mr. Syverud is reversing decades of student centered education which has benefited both the students and the greater Syracuse community. His callousness toward the student body and especially the needs of the most vulnerable on his campus shows that he is not the person for this job.
The Chancellor of Syracuse University needs to be a leader. Mr. Syverud appears to nothing more than a manager. It is clear from his actions, the tremendous and awe-inspiring response from the student body to these actions, and the complete inability of Mr. Syverud to address the legitimate concerns of the students and faculty to his decisions that the Trustees of the University made a mistake in hiring him. It is in the best interests of the university that the Trustees admit this mistake and take the actions necessary to rectify it immediately.
Paul J. Ditz
Class of 1993