Category Archives: In Solidarity

Statements of solidarity from faculty, alums, and community members

Cold Case Justice Initiative and the Democratizing Project Support THE General Body, Demand a Transparent and Accountable University

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Dear Chancellor Kent Syverud,

The Cold Case Justice Initiative and the Democratizing Project at Syracuse University are in full support of the actions taken by the student-led organization called THE General Body (TGB). We have followed and participated in the student sit-ins over the past two- weeks and the negotiations that have occurred, and urge you to continue to work with TGB in meeting their needs.

We also write to register our strong objections to the administration’s handling of the legitimate concerns the students have raised and object to the intensifying acts of intimidation, harassment, and threats that have been waged against them. Members of THE General Body are not our enemies; they are our integral members of our community and they deserve our respect and support. We thus condemn their treatment in the strongest possible terms.

The students who have organized the sit-ins and articulated university needs are the best Syracuse University has to offer. Their level of commitment and enthusiasm in improving the educational landscape and environment of Syracuse University is evident. Although they have been harassed, intimidated, and targeted by DPS, they have remained steadfast. These students must not be penalized for their grievances and actions, but rather, the university must actively work with them in solving the deep-seated issues which they have brought to the fore and that have long affected our University.

The events that have transpired this semester present us with many challenges but also offer us educational opportunities and avenues for change. Considering the political and social climate in many colleges and universities across the country, the needs expressed by our students are not unreasonable. In fact, students are only seeking what a world- class University should already provide: a conducive learning environment that is racially and ethnically diverse, free of discriminatory practices, cognizant of students’ needs, considerate of the changing student demographics, and supportive of student health and well-being overall.

The students have called for transparency and meaningful participation in the decision- making at the University. These demands concern all constituencies at Syracuse University and reverberate into the surrounding community. We call on you to return to the negotiating table with the students. There can be no final word on these matters until there is consensus by the SU community on the issues the students have raised and which impact all of us: students, faculty, and staff who call Syracuse University our home.

While the sit-in might seem a distraction to the daily operations of the University, let us remind you that some of the best changes in American higher education have been the direct result of student discontent and organizing. We thus urge you to reassure us, as well as THE General Body, that you will continue to meet with them and not penalize, threaten, or punish them for their important contributions to our university community.

TGB is the conscience of this university. As members of Syracuse University, we also speak in support of the students’ integral efforts. Together with TGB, we therefore demand a university that is transparent, accountable, and most of all, respectful of every member’s basic civil rights and civil liberties.

Sincerely,

Cold Case Justice Initiative

Democratizing Knowledge Project

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Alumnus, Adjunct Faculty, and Two-Time Chancellor’s Award Recipient Reflects on Value of Scholarship in Action

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Dear Chancellor Syverud, Dean Gonzalez, and members of THE General Body,

I write this to express my sincere concern for the fate of Syracuse University, and to offer a humble suggestion for its future.

My name is John Cardone, recent Public Artist in Residence with the Near West Side Initiative, and adjunct faculty in the University Honors Program. I am also a recent alumnus of SU with a degree in Sculpture and a minor in Creative Writing. I was an Imagining America Engagement Fellow, a VPA Scholar, member of the Honors Program, and two time recipient of the Chancellor’s award for public and community service. During my time at SU, I founded an ESL tutoring Program at Nottingham HS, assisted Prof. Sarah McCoubrey in starting after-school programs at the Blodgett School, and Coordinated a volunteer tutoring program at the Center for New Americans. I was also one of the key students involved in the development and maintenance of 601 Tully with Prof. Marion Wilson, a pursuit which brought me endless joy and invaluable experience. Suffice it to say that SU has served me extremely well in the past six years, and I in turn have done my best to give my service the university and to the city itself. And it precisely because of this exchange of service, this engagement of scholarship, that I consider my time in Syracuse to be the most valuable learning experience of my life.

For several years I believed that my positive experiences in Syracuse were brought about entirely by my own doing, and indeed there were many people who did their best to reassure my beliefs. However, I now realize that it was not merely my own initiative but the individuals, communities, and values of SU that gave me the resources to expand beyond my bubble of a self-concerned student into a wider world of very real need and of problems worth solving. Moreover, it was precisely the values of community engagement and civic involvement that salvaged my experience from being one of apathetic theoretical discourse to one of urgent and practical problem solving. Continue reading

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FACULTY AND STUDENTS MARCH TO CHANCELLOR SYVERUD’S HOUSE

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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”

THE General Body has also received a letter of support signed by the 1199SEIU, Adjuncts United, and a broad coalition of local community organizations.

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Statement of Support from Adjuncts United

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We respect and share The General Body’s efforts to have their grievances heard by the SU Administration. Shared Governance via greater representation is the right of the entire Syracuse University community.

Legal representation is also the right of each individual member of the SU community and Adjuncts United urges the University to allow student activists access to legal advising in light of the charges and sanctions that are being served on them.

On behalf of the AU Unit Membership of over 500 part time SU faculty,

Laurel Morton
President, Adjuncts United​

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Solidarity from 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East

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Women’s and Gender Studies Department Chair Supports THE General Body’s Goal to Achieve Meaningful and Lasting Change

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Dear Chancellor Syverud,

Many of my colleagues have been truly eloquent in their pointed and poignant letters to you, written from so many different points of view and social locations. They have offered astute lessons in the history of social movements, in the first amendment, in what it means to be an educator, on what it means to be a part of this institution and dedicate one’s career to this place and its thriving, and more. I have been moved by their writings just as I have been deeply inspired by so many SU students who have demonstrated intellectual depth, powerful reflection, dialogic engagement, and a profound dedication to understanding the indivisible nature of myriad forms of injustice and harm.

As the students have well articulated and described, this means that what may seem, on the surface, to be divergent and separate issues and problems must be addressed together, not sequentially or separately. Questions of campus accessibility, mental health support and services, the Posse scholarships, endemic sexual assault on campus and the need for advocacy and a transformed campus climate, ongoing experiences with widespread racism/sexism/homophobia/ableism on campus, ADA compliance, environmental sustainability, uneven and sometimes antagonistic relations with campus and community police forces, and more are interrelated. Together, these issues and more are part of the shape and pattern of structural inequalities and asymmetrical life opportunities not only “out there” in the world, but inside “here,” at SU and in the communities in which we live and work

THE General Body represents a coalition of some of our most dedicated and engaged students coming together across a diverse (and what many others see as a divergent) range of issues. Their actions, words, and vision of what’s possible by working collectively across differences to achieve meaningful and lasting change, alongside the compelling vision of so many faculty and staff, should be seen as inspiring and as a great opportunity to forge dialogue and work toward improving SU on these and other myriad fronts.

The students and faculty are calling forth a sense of the greater possibilities before us to find ways to craft a more just, reflective, inclusive, and meaningful educational environment for all. Will you take up the invitation before you?

Most sincerely,

Vivian M. May
Associate Professor and Chair
Women’s & Gender Studies Department
National Women’s Studies Association President, 2014-2016

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Founder and Director of 601 Tully Shares Letters of Support

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I write to show solidarity with The General Body.

I also am gratified to know that the de-funding of 601 Tully in the first round of Chancellor cuts is on your list of grievances. 601 Tully was a former drug house on the NWS that 117 students from colleges across campus helped to renovate into a vibrant art, ecology and eduction center. Until this summer it served as model collaboration between artists, University and an impoverished neighborhood. It offered free classes, gallery and artist residencies seven days a week and attracted in its first year of staffing 4700 visitors. 601 Tully is also a member of CMAC (Coaltion for Museums and Arts Centers); and the School of Education has, as best they are able to, continued to support this important work.

I want to share with you two documents (here and here) of the many letters from around the country written in support of 601 Tully and against the decision to cut its funding by 100 percent last Spring by the Chancellor. These letters were sent to the Chancellor via Eric Spina at the time of the news and it seems appropriate that they be added to your list of support and grievances now. Please feel free to post them on your blog.

I look forward to supporting you tomorrow at the faculty rally.

Marion Wilson
Associate Professor
Syracuse University
Founder, Director 601 Tully
(Center for Engaged Art & Research)

marionwilson.com
601tully.syr.edu
mobileliteracyartsbus.blogspot.com

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