“We learn through what is tangible,” said SU undergraduate student Henry Nelson. “You learn about injustice by fighting it.”
Since the first evening students sat in the lobby of Crouse-Hinds Hall, they have been educating each other and the public. This has been at the core of THE General Body’s daily agendas. There have been teach-ins on subjects including the political value of stories and violence when institutions co-opt them, the history of activism at SU, the corporatization of the university, campus labor issues, and feminist pedagogy. More informal teach-ins include sessions led by students sitting-in, contextualizing the issues and also doing teach-outs, visiting classrooms, and trying to share information with other students.
Students have also learned from each other’s struggles at the sit-in. During a meeting among students of the general body over the weekend, one student cited his newfound language for talking about intersectional identities; another advocated for captioning photos in blog posts as an accessible writing practice; another cited the important lessons of critically reading media coverage of the sit-in. These creative, collaborative analytical skills enact the types of changes that students would like to see in the institution at large (for example, the need for trainings in diversity and inclusion among upper level administrators).
This morning, as the week began with construction fences blocking the protest from the public’s view, THE General Body held a read-in where students shared the work of writers including Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, and June Jordan. When the read-in was opened up to the rest of those in attendance, the father of a Syracuse University student entered the circle to speak. Among other suggestions, he encouraged students to focus on their educations and not let the sit-in disrupt their push for “excellence and achievement.” Students responded to his comment by stressing that the sit-in represents a commitment not only to their individual educational experiences, but to the support, and safety, and dignity of all students.
“People underestimate the power of education through organizing,” said senior Kim Powell.
Later in the afternoon Dr. Horace Campbell from the Department of African American Studies at SU did a teach-in emphasizing the relationship between the University, the broader community, the shifts we are seeing in education, and the allocation of resources.
Through poetry, teach-ins, teach-outs, student led discussions, student writing, multimodal texts, and social media, the sit-in continues to facilitate public discourse and provide a space for witnessing, analyzing, and acting against injustice.