An Update from THE General Body

On Wednesday night, 80 members of THE General Body coalition student group conducted preliminary negotiations with Chancellor Kent Syverud and Dean Bea González in Crouse-Hinds lobby. Following the meeting, Syverud, his executive team, and González met to respond to THE General Body’s 46-page document of grievances and demands, opening up possibilities for next steps.

However, in an e-mail to the entire University community on Thursday evening, Dean González expressed disappointment that negotiations did not move forward in time for today’s Board of Trustees meeting, and stated that next steps are contingent on THE General Body ending the sit-in and vacating Crouse-Hinds Hall.

We share Dean González’s disappointment in this impasse. Although Wednesday’s meeting offered a promising and positive start in negotiations, very few of the grievances and demands were covered in the 90-minute meeting. THE General Body is disappointed that the University expects students to acquiesce to proposals that have no guarantees or timelines.

We remain committed to improving this University and will continue to show our dedication with our sit-in at Crouse-Hinds Hall. Backed by extensive faculty and community support, the sit-in has facilitated teach-ins and dialogue about pressing issues affecting all of us. The significance of the physical space of the sit-in cannot be minimized. This is evident in national coverage from Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Nation, Democracy Now, and local Syracuse news sources including Syracuse.com, TWC News, and the Daily Orange.

Neither González’s e-mail nor the administration’s responses to our demands and grievances adequately address the full scope of the concerns of THE General Body, and fail to adequately respond to urgent student needs. For example, in response to our demand for emergency medical transport for students with mental health disorders, the administration simply restated their existing policy language, ignoring the fact that students are currently suffering from a lack of services despite the existing policies.

In her e-mail to the student body, Dean Gonzales writes, “In making these many commitments, University leadership asked for only one thing from the student group in return—that they commit to depart Crouse-Hinds Hall by tomorrow and return the building to normal operating status moving forward.” But in reality University leadership is asking much more of students. As senior Political Science/Public Policy major Ella Mendonsa remarked, “By not giving us a definitive plan of action to our demands, University leadership is asking us to give up our rights to adequate mental health services, to sexual assault advocacy services, to give up our rights to accessibility on campus for students with disabilities. These are services we shouldn’t have to fight for on this campus.”

We call on the upper-level administration to honor their good faith and respect the negotiation process established during Wednesday’s meeting. We call on the student body, faculty, staff and community members to hold these administrators accountable.

As we stated explicitly in Wednesday’s meeting we want to reiterate that the sit-in will not end without written confirmation that the Chancellor and Dean are willing to commit to a clear timetable for moving forward with each item in our demands document.

Visit THEGeneralBody.org for more information about the sit-in.

Download this document here.

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