Geography Professor Challenges Syverud’s “Unconscionable” Denial of Legal Access to Students

Witnesses to the truth of what Chancellor Syverud's move toward efficiency means in terms of real lives affected.

Witnesses to the truth of what Chancellor Syverud’s move toward efficiency means in terms of real lives affected.

Dear Chancellor Syverud,

I have refrained thus far from joining my colleagues in vocal support of “THE General Body,” because I was and am personally uncomfortable with signing on to an extensive and fluid set of demands.

This evening, however, I’ve been told that the students at Crouse-Hinds have been denied access to their lawyers, while being served with documents that can only be interpreted as threatening, given the circumstances.

I am not a lawyer, and cannot claim to know whether a judge would rule this an abrogation of the constitutional right to counsel. But there is absolutely NO DOUBT in my mind that it is counter to the values that most of us at SU try to live by, and the values that I had hoped that you would lead us in respecting. To threaten (directly or by implication) a group of non-violent student protesters with legal action, whilst simultaneously denying them the chance to meet with their lawyers is simply unconscionable.

While I may not agree with every one of the student protesters’ demands, I do respect the commitment that underlies their actions. I believe that their willingness to commit themselves to their ongoing action actually reflects credit on this institution — I teach in a School of Citizenship, and these are students who are taking their citizenship very seriously indeed (they could perhaps be contrasted with the students who regularly bring disrepute on us all with drunken antics that do not seem to result in their receiving threatening letters).

It’s my belief that the values of Syracuse University would be best expressed by allowing non-violent protesters to remain in place while respectfully engaging with their concerns, by refraining from threats, and by respecting their legal and ethical right to meet freely with their legal advisors.

Sincerely,

Jacob Bendix, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Department of Geography
Syracuse University

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