As faculty members in the Syracuse University Department of Geography, we wish to express our support for, and solidarity with, the students sitting in at Crouse Hinds. As the occupation enters its second week, we are impressed with THE General Body’s clear articulation of what Syracuse needs to become a more just, inclusive, better university. We are impressed with THE General Body’s steadfastness. And we are particularly impressed that they have forced into open discussion across campus issues that we have long complained about, sometimes advocated for, but felt relatively powerless to address.
Like THE General Body, we insist that there needs to be much greater transparency as well as real, effective student, staff and faculty involvement in decision making, and especially in the financial operation of the University. There needs to be a greater commitment to, not an erosion of, shared governance. There needs to be a commitment by the Administration and the Board of Trustees to respect the processes and the will of the University Senate.
Like THE General Body, we are concerned about Syracuse University’s fading commitment to community-engaged research and teaching as a core part of the University’s mission. We are concerned about SU’s apparent withdrawal from its commitment to being a progressive force in the city and region (as imperfectly as that role may have been performed in the past) and its apparent recommitment to once again becoming an aloof institution in Syracuse but not of it.
Like THE General Body we agree the University must remain committed to recruiting a student body that is as diverse as it is talented, that it must remain an institution that is open, welcoming, and supportive to students from diverse backgrounds, and that it must recommit resources to assure that it is so.
Like THE General Body, we are concerned that hasty decisions, such as the one to close the Advocacy Center without real provision for continuance of its services, undermine the services and support students need to thrive at Syracuse University and threaten to make the campus both a physically and intellectually less safe space for some.
And like THE General Body, we know that the University is not a corporation and should not be run like one. The contemporary model of highly instrumentalized education is not only flawed but broken and poorly serves the teaching and research mission of the University. The single-minded pursuit of better rankings perverts the educational mission by putting the cart (faux-prestige) ahead of the horse (high quality learning, teaching, research, and creative endeavors).
We admire the students at Crouse Hinds and are impressed with what they are fighting for. We admire and support their taking of their education into their own hands because in doing so they are helping to make Syracuse University a better university than it currently is. We admire THE General Body because it is at the forefront of a new wave of students who will positively change the landscape of higher education. We call on the Syracuse University Administration to recognize THE General Body’s articulation of “needs and solutions” for what they are – symptoms of significant problems at Syracuse University – to address them with all the serious consideration they deserve, and to enunciate clearly and in writing how it will work collaboratively across campus to address them.