Today THE General Body enters its seventh day of the sit-in and continues a weekend of talks with Dean Gonzalez regarding how to move forward and map out a timetable for the list of needs. It’s time to reflect on what the sit-in has accomplished so far.
On Saturday, students discussed seven points from the list of needs with Dean Gonzalez:
- allowing the Student Association president to e-mail the entire undergraduate student body;
- freezing direct investments in fossil fuels and minimizing fossil fuel investments in mutual funds;
- granting students 1/3 representation in each Fast Forward committee (with 2/3 of that group being composed of undergraduate students);
- reversal of cuts to the POSSE contract, which was prematurely terminated in two cities
- immediately beginning a search for an ADA coordinator to improve accessibility on campus and making sure that they are hired and empowered;
- merging elements of the Multicultural Spring Program into the existing “Own the Dome” structure
- implementing diversity training for senior administrators and the campus at large; and
- implementing a living wage and improved services for graduate staff and commuters.
Pending a written commitment from the administration, they agree to move forward with the following points. While there is still a long way to go, the following gains indicate that there is room for productive collaboration.
- The undergraduate Student Association president will be allowed monitored access to all undergraduate student emailing. For years, students have been advocating for full, unrestricted e-mail access to the student body. Presently, the administration has agreed to vetted, bi-monthly emails; THE General Body is negotiating for the e-mail list to function like a listserv to facilitate transparent communication with students about important campus issues.
- The Socially Responsible Investment Matters Committee will meet with Divest SU. This is an important step forward in working towards transparency about the university’s investments.
- The University will immediately begin an inclusive search process for an ADA coordinator. This is evidence that the university is taking important steps towards increasing accessibility on campus.
- THE General Body’s proposal to enhance campus trainings by adding intersectional trainings throughout the various divisions of the university will be taken up and considered by the university. These trainings will be conducted by Conversations Around Race and Ethnicity (CARE) and Safer People Safer Spaces (SPSS). This indicates that the university is taking seriously THE General Body’s proposals to address the lack of safety and understanding on campus, particularly for students, faculty, and staff with marginalized identities, and the necessity that social justice assume an important role in academic work.
Beyond the accomplishments through the negotiations, THE General Body has accomplished creating a space for democratic processes, teach-ins, and education around issues affecting the 25,000 students at SU and SUNY-ESF. It is important to note that this is a student, community, and faculty-led initiative, and serves as an example of the kind of dialogue and transparency that we are calling for from the administration.
THE General Body will be meeting with Dean Gonzalez today at 5PM to work through additional needs and solutions.