A Letter to the Chancellor

Dear Chancellor Syverud,

With all of the turmoil that is happening on campus as a result of your decisions, how do you see fit to write to us about insubstantial issues like your appreciation of an a cappella concert? The fact that you would take the time to attend such events and write the campus your reflections on the experience is astonishing in light of the fact that you have by and large avoided meeting with students negatively impacted by your decisions and have not yet written to the university community to take responsibility for the harmful consequences of your actions. It has taken an action as drastic as the sit-in in Crouse-Hinds to gain ground with you in this regard. Understand this: ignoring us has only made us more tenacious.

I have been in residence at this university since 2007 aside from two and a half years spent away for field research, and up until recently had noted a dearth of activism on this campus. It is telling that unlike many college towns, Occupy Syracuse took place not on our campus, but in Perseverance Park. In contrast, at Rutgers and Columbia, where I pursued my BA and MA, protests on a variety of issues both global and local were a fixture of campus life. But even at the nadir of the Bush years, dissent was not as strong and protests were not as frequent as is the case here, now, on this campus. You must realize it is no coincidence that the political climate of this campus has changed so radically within less than a year of you assuming leadership.

The time for platitude-laden e-mails to your so-called “Orange Friends” is over. The jig is up. As things stand, you do not strike me as a friend. Your undemocratic decisions and the unpopular direction in which they are taking the university makes this painfully clear. Your disingenuous rhetoric about friendship, kinship, and unity is no different than those used by many corporations to make their workers feel like traitors for unionizing. But a university is not a corporation and you are not a CEO. The cold, dehumanizing logic of corporate neoliberalism is no way to foster an educational community. But it is not too late for a change. If you truly want to prove yourself to be a friend to the university community and restore unity to a campus that is more fractious than ever, you need to change course. This is the time for dialog, not another PR campaign. Take seriously the grievances and suggestions with which THE General Body has presented you, and talk to us.

Sincerely,

Daniel Cheifer
PhD Candidate, Religion Department
Humanities Center Dissertation Fellow
Syracuse University

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