Last week Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud ordered physical plant workers to construct a wall around students protesting his decisions to get rid of vital services for students who have been victims of sexual assault and to neglect students with mental health needs, disabilities or who have been the subject of hate speech and racism. These are only some of the pervasive, life-threatening issues faced by students, faculty and staff of the University, and that the Chancellor refuses to make concrete decisions to address. Instead, he has espoused a rhetoric of “caring” while his actions to move toward “efficiency” tell a different story. His latest act was to order physical plant to remove a memorial students erected at the wall to remind the campus that they are here fighting for their needs and to honor those who have lost their lives or had their lives disregarded due to lack of adequate services and support.
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Chancellor Kent Syverud Orders Physical Plant Workers to do His Dirty Work and tear down THE General Body’s Memorial
Below is Tatiana Cadet’s statement from our press conference last week that describes who THE General Body is and what the group stands for.
Good afternoon and welcome to our space. I am Tatiana Cadet, and this is my first semester at Syracuse University.
As a member of THE General Body, I want to describe who we are and what we stand for.
THE General Body is a diverse coalition of student leaders, coming together to support diversity and transparency on our campus.
It is apparent to us that major transformations are happening at this university, changes that affect the entire Syracuse University community, including those presently here and those to come.
While the Fast Forward Syracuse plan is in the making, we have an idea of where it is headed.
On Thursday and Friday, the Board of Trustees will meet to adopt a new mission and vision statement that strips away many of the values that we hold dear.
References to students of diverse backgrounds, the university as a public good, the role of students as citizens, and the idea that we should be strengthening democracy through this school have been deleted.
We aren’t just concerned about the verbal changes – we have also seen changes in action that have us deeply concerned about the direction of the university.
As many of you know, the Advocacy Center was closed over the summer without student, faculty, or staff input. Not only this but the center was closed with only one day’s notice for students and no adequate replacement services for victims of sexual assault over the summer.
Likewise, an inner-city student leadership program called Posse was closed without consulting with students or transparent information of where the funds would be reallocated.
There are many other incidents on campus that reveal a hostile and unsafe environment for students with marginalized identities, including people of color, disabled students, and students in need of mental health services.
These are not isolated events – they are a trend, as others will address.
It is clear to us that Fast Forward Syracuse is leading us to a university in which decisions are made from the top down.
It is important to point out that this sit-in was our last resort. This is not the first time we have brought up these issues, this is not the first time we are voicing our stance, the rally for Diversity and Transparency was not the first movement intended to voice change.
So in arguing for a diverse, inclusive, and democratic university, we are sitting in. And creating here a diverse, inclusive, democratic space for the voices and perspectives of the university community.