Dear Chancellor Syverud,
I am saddened by the apparent escalation of administration pressure on the student protesters calling themselves The General Body. The erection of a fence around their protest seemed intended either to hide the fact of their protest from the outside world, to hide potential eviction action, or both. Now it seems that University legal counsel has delivered letters to movement leaders, addressed to them individually, containing warnings relating to the student code of conduct. This would seem to contradict earlier assurances of amnesty. Further, the students are apparently being denied access to legal advisors who have tried to speak to them. These intimidation tactics are unworthy of a great University with strong traditions of support for public engagement and democratic public action.
I urge you to dismantle the fence, avoid any further escalation of the situation, and to keep channels of discussion open, both with The General Body, and with SU faculty. I must tell you that there is deep and widespread concern among the faculty regarding what is perceived as high-handed and authoritarian action by this administration, concern the like of which I have not seen in my 27 years at SU. Escalation of pressures on peaceful student protesters will only deepen these concerns, and worsen relations between the administration and the wider University community.
Professor of Political Science