Dear Chancellor Syverud —
I am praying and hoping that there has been a misunderstanding. I have served at this University for 22 years, as a professor, citizen, mentor, advisor, department chair, and as a deeply dedicated member of this community. I deeply love Syracuse University. I have been proud to call this institution my home. I have witnessed many key moments in this institution’s history — from the aftermath of the collective pain of the loss of so many students to terrorism in 1988, to the rallying of faculty, students and staff in 1998 in support of the service workers on campus, to the collective amazement and joy so many of us felt together in these halls when we witnessed on screen the inauguration of the first African American president and debated the future together. These have all been moments of collective emotion and the opening up of new futures. We have as a university always been willing to debate and discuss our differences, we have learned from them and we have moved forward.
But today I feel pain and sadness. I feel that my pride in the university I have worked for for 22 years has been compromised. I do not feel proud to be a Syracusan today. I felt uplifted last week by your genuine openness and willingness to engage with the students sitting in at Crouse-Hinds. I felt uplifted by your promise to take no retaliatory action against students who are motivated — whatever you may think of the specifics — by idealism and love for this institution. I felt uplifted by your repeated recognition and acknowledgment that the students were participating in a long and honorable history of dissent.
Obviously eventually the students will leave Crouse-Hinds. The question is how and under what terms. There is every reason to believe we can move forward with a respectful negotiation, well mediated. But to act as it seems you have done today — to tell DPS to deny the students access to legal counsel — this is not the way forward. This is the way of intimidation and disrespect and fear and sadness. Please, please do not give in to those sides of institutional life. That will be a choice that will haunt this institution for years to come. Please, please choose the path of love and patience. We can do this together. The students need their legal counsel, and they need mediators. They do not need threats and the denial of access to counsel.
I pray and hope there has been a misundestanding.
Professor and Chair
Department of Anthropology
Dear Chancellor Syverud,
I am writing with serious disappointment that the students protesting with THE General Body have been denied legal counsel. Given that the administration has publicly indicated they intend to take disciplinary action, the students require advice from legal professionals. Just because Syracuse is a private University does not mean it can deny the students their basic civil rights.
I also find it extremely disingenuous that you publicly laud the students actions and now appear to be subjecting them to disciplinary action. You said in your recent University-wide email, “The past ten days have demonstrated much about the importance of listening to our students and responding to their concerns…I cannot say enough how much I admire and respect the students’ commitment to this University. ” If you believe in the importance of these students expressing their concerns then they must be allowed to protest and sit without fear of retaliation or reprisal from the Administration. The delivery of name-identified legal envelopes to students in the sit in is an obvious and distasteful scare tactic.
It is time for your congenial rhetoric to match your actions. Please do whatever it takes to ensure that these students are given legal counsel and their basic civil rights.
Department of Geography
144 Eggers Hall
The Maxwell School
Dear Chancellor Syverud,
I am writing to express both my concern for our students being locked-in at Crouse-Hinds over the weekend, and my dismay that they are being prevented from obtaining legal support and counsel. I am proud that we have such strong, committed, engaged, and passionate students. They ARE the university!
The students in THE General Body, have given me hope for the future of SU. These students’ actions and efforts stand in stark contrast to other very public, recent “actions” taken by groups of students here (as you might recall here) – the defense of the rampant “party” culture which itself contributes to the cultures of rape, racism, ableism, and sexism that are part of what the THE General Body are standing against.
I am proud that we have students who are committed to improving SU for everyone. I hope you will personally re-engage with our students, allow them access to legal counsel, and protect them from retaliation.
School of Education
Dear Chancellor Syverud,
I join my colleagues in expressing my deep disappointment in your denial of legal counsel to the students sitting in at Crouse Hinds. Even more disturbing and surprising is the fact that you suddenly reneged on your Nov. 14th promise to refrain from taking retaliatory action against them in the first place, especially after you publicly lauded them in a recent e-mail as “admirable” and “committed” members of our university community.
Exerting your power as chancellor in order to silence and remove these students from the administration building is the EASY way to proceed. But such a move will only further alienate the faculty, staff, and the rest of the student body. I want to echo my colleagues in reminding you that our students and faculty look to you as not only the “manager-in-chief” of this university, but also as an ethical role model. To be blunt, your recent actions strike me as bullying tactics and are not the sort of behavior I’d expect from my chancellor. I urge you to allow these students legal counsel and to withdraw the disciplinary action you’ve now strategically taken against individual members of THE General Body.
As you, yourself, expressed in your letter to the entire university on Wednesday night, this is a particularly thoughtful and committed group of students. I stand in solidarity with them on many of the issues they’ve raised, including their opposition to funding cuts for diversity initiatives, inadequate mental health services, the closure of the Advocacy Center, lack of respect for university senate decisions on promotion and tenure, and removal of key language around issues of democracy and community engagement from our university’s mission statement. You’ve emphasized your “good-faith” efforts in negotiating with the students on these issues; I implore you to live up to your own words.
As I’m sure you’re keenly aware, the entire community is watching you. These are the moments that define a career and a life. Please choose your words and actions carefully.
Writing Instructor / Writing Program
Faculty Liaison / SU Project Advance