“Disappointed” Visual Arts Professor Insists Student Protestors “Are Deserving of Strong Engagement,” Not “Harass[ment]”

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Dear Chancellor Syverud,

I am writing to both state my support for THE General Body and to urge you to continue working with these students. The issues this group has raised, and the intelligence with which they have advocated for them, are deserving of strong engagement.

I am very disappointed by your and your administration’s actions this week: you stopped talking to these students when you made your “final response,” built a wall around Crouse-Hinds, intimated student leaders with threats of disciplinary action and then denied them legal counsel. The energy spent on harassing the protesters would be better spent actually solving the issues THE General Body has raised.

Please do not continue down this path. Instead, I ask that you continue to work with these students, to listen to them, and to work towards making positive changes. These students are working for the betterment of the University. These students are creating a great community here.

While our institution’s official bodies such as the Board of Trustees, the Student Association, the Graduate Student Organization, the University Senate, each college’s faculty governance bodies, and many other committees do work on many issues; I have found that informal, ad hoc groups have much to offer in terms of generating ideas, mobilizing people and creating an active community. It would show great strength if SU’s administration could engage with these groups fully. THE General Body formed in part because the official avenues were not able to make changes that would only improve Syracuse University.

I want to be hopeful about good change happening here, and THE General Body has given me more hope than I have ever felt during my long relationship to this institution. The many issues they have raised are long-standing. I ask you to do things differently and to be open these students. They embody the best of SU.

Sincerely,

Joanna Spitzner

Associate Professor
Department of Art/Foundation
College of Visual and Performing Arts

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