On Tuesday, November 18, more than 25 faculty, staff and students of THE General Body marched from the administration building to Chancellor Kent Syverud’s house to hand-deliver the following invitation:
Dear Chancellor Syverud,
The Students, staff and faculty of THE General Body request your presence on Thursday, November Twentieth, Two Thousand Fourteen, between ten o’clock am and three o’clock pm, at your convenience, in Crouse Hinds Hall.
We wish to meet on critical university needs left inadequately addressed in your final response. These include: maintaining all scholarships and recruitment for students of color, students of lower socioeconomic status, and other diverse student populations; expanding mental health providers, advocacy against sexual assault and rape culture; expanded counseling staff; and financial transparency.
“We are sending the Chancellor our own ‘final’ response,” said General Body member Benjamin Kuebrich. “While this doesn’t represent the end of our work, the list includes student needs that must be acted on immediately.”
Faculty were blocked by DPS officers from walking up to the Chancellor’s house to give him the invitation. Only one faculty member, who had been invited to an event the Chancellor was hosting, was allowed entrance.
“Thank you for the letter,” said Chancellor Syverud. “I will be sure to read it.”
During the first negotiation meeting with THE General Body, Chancellor Syverud remarked: “They’re all important [the demands],” and to choose among them “feels like asking somebody to choose between their children.”
“This is a chance for the Chancellor to prove his commitment to the students and not just the financial pockets of the university,” said General Body member Kim Powell.
This action at Chancellor Syverud’s house follows yesterday’s rally on SU campus, where 150 faculty, students, and community members gathered under the rain to protest the administration’s treatment of THE General Body. Over the weekend, students in Crouse-Hinds Hall were issued individually-addressed envelopes containing the Student Code of Conduct and Disruption policies. The next day their legal counsel Janis McDonald, a tenured professor of law at SU, was turned away when she tried to meet with them.
The administration’s denial of students’ basic right to meet with an attorney galvanized faculty across campus in support of the students. They responded by writing numerous letters to the Chancellor and standing outside Crouse-Hinds Hall all throughout Sunday holding signs of support.
“We applaud the tenacity and the thoroughness of the student action. They are dedicated, prepared and very organized. They are truly concerned about these issues, this institution and this community,” wrote McDonald in an open letter to the campus community. “Many of us on the faculty support and respect their peaceful efforts to procure a commitment from the administration to move forward in an integral and concrete manner with specific terms and deadlines”