Tag Archives: DATMovementSU

GSO Censures the Administration for Changes to Health Care Plan

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April 2, 2015
Graduate Student Organization
216 Bowne Hall

Dear Chancellor Syverud:
On April 1st, 2015 the Senate of the Graduate Student Organization voted unanimously to censure the university leadership for its actions surrounding the recently announced changes to student health insurance. The Senate is appalled at the lack of transparency leading up to this decision, particularly the lack of announcements to those it would impact as the requirements and plans were being constructed.

Additionally, the Senate is outraged that this decision process, one that materially affects students in a substantial manner, did not involve students prior to when a final decision was reached. The GSO insists the University include students in university policymaking, particularly when it impacts students to a large degree.

The Senate calls for all graduate teaching, research, and other assistants employed by the University to remain eligible for the employee health insurance plans, as they have been in this and past years. We censure the university leadership for moving to take this benefit away from all graduate assistants. The GSO is committed to maintaining employee insurance plan eligibility for all these students, regardless of degree type or other categorization. Graduate teaching, research, and other assistants are core to the
instructional and research mission at Syracuse University, comprising up to one-third of the full-time equivalent instructional personnel. The university devalues and demeans the work these students perform by not recognizing them as eligible for employee health benefits. The current plan also presents severe cost increases and an unacceptably unclear benefits picture if it were to go forward, including questions about dental coverage and a total lack of vision coverage. The university needs to send a clear message that it will not diminish the insurance benefits to these students.

The Senate is alarmed at the substantial confusion and cost increases for international students that the new health insurance requirement has created and censures the university leadership for its role in creating this confusion and cost increase. Students across the university are still awaiting a complete plan description, full justifications for the move away from the HTH insurance plans, and a full explanation of the necessity to raise costs for most international students by approximately $700 annually. International students require further information concerning how the new Aetna Student Health Plan will interface with their requirements as international students studying in the US. The GSO insists this information be made public and no further actions are to be taken to implement this plan without GSO Senate input.
Graduate Student Organization Senate

PDF of letter available here.

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Letter of Gratitude from Parents to Syracuse Faculty Supporting THE General Body

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Dear Faculty,

As parents of students involved with THE General Body, we would like to extend our gratitude to the Syracuse University faculty who supported our students. You were there for them as advisors and advocates. You made sure our students had food for their bodies as well as their minds and souls. You taught them at Crouse-Hinds and invited them to your classrooms to teach others. You boldly stood up for them in the face of adversity and even protested on their behalf. Not only were you committed to the students during their 18-day sit-in, you have committed to continue standing by them – to work to ensure there is no retaliation and to stand side by side with the students to continue demanding that the university address the rest of the grievances.

Our students gave a wonderful gift to Syracuse University by breaking down the barrier of complacency and ignorance about issues of diversity and transparency, sexual abuse, mental health, and more. You gave the students the gift of strength and support. With both groups as allies, positive change will be made at Syracuse University. As Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Thank you again for the gifts you bring to Syracuse University.

Parents of THE General Body

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Cooperative Federal Expresses Solidarity with THE General Body

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On November 19, 2014, the Board of Directors of Cooperative Federal, a committee of volunteers elected by their fellow members to govern Cooperative Federal’s credit union, unanimously passed this resolution:

Statement of Solidarity with THE General Body at Syracuse University

Cooperative Federal expresses solidarity with THE General Body and their movement for structural changes to the administration of Syracuse University related to transparency, diversity, and safety.

Our Credit Union Aligns with the 11 Grievance and Need Points of THE General Body:

TRANSPARENCY: As a cooperative entity we uphold transparency in our operations through governance by a Board elected democratically by our shareholding members on the basis of one member, one vote. Institutions should exist to serve people, not the other way around. Our investment in Syracuse to date is over $110 million. All of our members’ money is put to work in and for the local community.

We oppose the corporatization of education and exclusion of the students (stakeholders, if not technically shareholders) and the campus community from access to budgetary information, and the blocking of the inclusion of wording that supports diversity, citizenship, accessibility, democracy, and community engagement in any mission statement. Budgetary decisions should also respect and respond to requests for an increase in library and graduate student employee funding, as well as divestment from fossil fuels.

DIVERSITY: As a financing entity, Cooperative Federal takes great pride in re-investing all of our member’s savings into the community of those we represent – highlighting a culture of mutual aid and service across the diverse membership we are dedicated to cultivating. More than any other financial institution in Syracuse, we provide services to those underserved by conventional for-profit banks – including a growing number of recent immigrants and refugees, from every corner of the globe. Most of our members live on low incomes and a majority of our members are people of color.

Our own beginnings are in line with many campus movements of the last thirty years. Cooperative Federal was organized by a group of local activists seeking a viable and radical alternative to global corporate banks, specifically at that time, divestment from the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa. We continue to uphold a mission of fair services for people of color, single women, the LGBT community, activists and other low-income or nontraditional workers; through special loan terms, Servicios Bilingues, and a “commitment to serve all members fully”.

SAFETY: As an entity of the people, we fully respect and encourage the right to a peaceable, public redress of grievances as enshrined in our Constitution and traditions. This includes full inclusion of provision for mental health and sexual assault services, accessibility for those with disabilities, and preventative measures for those identifying as marginalized, as put forth within THE General Body’s list of needs.

Each member of a community should not only have the same rights as others whom share the same equity of being a functioning and contributing person within an institution, but also the same expectations towards a system and community of services that evolves with THE General Body and the needs they identify.

Prefiguring Society with Our Own Lives and Institutions

Each member, regardless of their wealth or ability, has an equal vote and an equal share in our success at Cooperative Federal, a model which we believe is key to a system that works for people, not for profit. Private educational organizations can take steps within their investments, campus services, and charter to ensure that they include such values as well.

Based on this belief and our record of engagement and service, Cooperative Federal proudly expresses our support for THE General Body at Syracuse University, and student movements everywhere against discrimination, unequal privilege, and lack of student community access to administrative redress. We honor the students fighting to demonstrate another way is possible within our current society, and stand with you throughout this work in progress.

In cooperation and solidarity,

Frank Raymond Cetera, President
Cooperative Federal
Syracuse’s Community Development Credit Union

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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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THURSDAY: 1:30PM MEETING WITH BEA GONZALEZ & PRESS CONFERENCE

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At 1:30pm on Thursday, November 20, Dean Bea Gonzalez will meet with THE General Body in Crouse-Hinds Hall. This meeting is in response to THE General Body’s call for Chancellor Syverud and his administration to sign this Good Faith Commitment Contract which addresses 6 crucial student needs that were not addressed by the Chancellor in his “final response.” Once the crucial student needs are discussed, THE General Body will hold a press conference to deliver a statement about the future of THE General Body.

While the Chancellor stated he needed to move on from THE General Body’s concerns in order to address the needs of the 21,000 other students on campus, his statement largely ignores the issues that THE General Body advocates for, which are relevant to the entire campus and surrounding community. The six crucial needs identified by THE General Body reflect students’ widespread concerns about mental health services, sexual assault, and racial and economic justice. They concern scholarships and programs for students of color and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds; hiring 7 counselors in order to meet SU’s accrediting agency’s recommendations;  hiring one additional psychiatrist to serve the nearly 24,000 students on SU and SUNY-ESF campuses; improving sexual assault services as one in four women are victims of sexual assault; and making budgets and salary data transparent.

Over the past week, THE General Body has experienced new threats from the administration. On Friday night, students in Crouse-Hinds were issued individually-addressed envelopes containing the student code of conduct and campus disruption policies. The next morning, when students attempted to meet with a tenured professor of law serving as their legal counsel, DPS blocked her from entering Crouse-Hinds.

This administrative behavior has garnered increased support from faculty, alumni and parents who have been writing the Chancellor daily requesting he open up dialog and re-initiate negotiations. Yesterday, faculty marched to the chancellor’s house to deliver an invitation to Crouse-Hinds Hall to discuss the six urgent needs. Over the course of the past 24 hours, faculty and alumni have written dozens of letters to the chancellor urging him to meet with students. In response, he wrote to THE General Body to say that Dean Gonzalez–who had previously been appointed as the administration’s “liason” to THE General Body–would meet with students.

While THE General Body has called consistently for a meeting with the Chancellor, they have only met with him once. A committed and growing group of faculty, students, parents, and alumni await the Chancellor’s commitment to addressing these crucial campus needs.

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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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CALLING ON CHANCELLOR SYVERUD: SIGN A GOOD FAITH COMMITMENT CONTRACT

THE General Body calls on Chancellor Syverud to sign the following Good Faith Commitment Contract to demonstrate his commitment to the needs of the campus community. These six crucial student needs were not addressed in the Chancellor’s “final response” to students’ needs, grievances, and solutions. We also ask that the Chancellor fulfill his commitment to sign a nonretaliation agreement, thus ensuring that students, faculty, and staff participating in the sit-in will not face punitive measures for their work to address these pressing problems.

A committed and growing group of faculty, students, parents, and alumni await the Chancellor’s commitment to addressing these crucial campus needs.

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“They’re all important,” and to choose among them “feels like asking somebody to choose between their children.”

— Chancellor Syverud, November 5, 2014 official transcript, on describing the issues raised in THE General Body’s Grievances, Needs, and Solutions document.

Demonstrating my good faith commitment to the university community, I, Chancellor Syverud, commit to the following critical needs:

  1. I, Chancellor Syverud, commit to not cutting any more programs or scholarships that recruit and admit US students of color and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
  2. I, Chancellor Syverud, commit to the original contract made to the POSSE program, three years of which were prematurely cut without consulting a single student.
  3. I, Chancellor Syverud, commit to hiring seven more counselors for Syracuse University’s Counseling Center, as the International Association of Counseling Services, SU’s accrediting agency for counseling, recommends. The agency recommends one counselor for every 1,000 students.
  4. I, Chancellor Syverud, commit to hiring an additional psychiatrist to the one that serves nearly 24,000 students on both SUNY ESF and SU’s campus. This is in addition to the psychiatric nurse that the university is currently searching for.
  5.  I, Chancellor Syverud, commit to honoring and implementing the recommendations of the Workgroup on Sexual Violence Prevention, Education, and Advocacy, which was created after community outcry in response to the irresponsible closure of the Advocacy Center.
  6. I, Chancellor Syverud, commit to financial transparency on campus, including providing the necessary salary data to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Last year’s failure to provide this data led to the Syracuse University’s AAUP’s inability to write the Z report (a critical data source on faculty salaries) for the first time in nearly 50 years. I further commit to making a comprehensive budget breakdown public, including student tuition, the $1.044 billion raised in The Campaign for SU, the amount of money spent on student services, community projects, scholarships, and the amount of money given to the university from both the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

After addressing these critical university community needs, I, Chancellor Syverud, look forward to a more inclusive governance process that includes the entire university as we work toward our common goals of safety, diversity, accessibility, equality, social justice, and democracy.

Signed,

_____________

Chancellor Syverud

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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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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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Four Pressing Problems Not Addressed in Chancellor Syverud’s “Final” Response to Student Needs & Grievances

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At Thursday’s press conference

 

We write this update 132 hours after Chancellor Syverud’s negotiation team committed to another meeting with THE General Body, a commitment that has not been honored. Instead, the Chancellor wrote a “final response” that does not adequately address many important, and in some cases life-and-death, needs of the university community.

We have now been sitting in for two full weeks, and it is important to challenge any claims that the activities arising from the sit-in have been supported by the Chancellor and his administration. The teach-ins, the knowledge exchange, and the support networks we have built have grown organically out of a collective recognition of students’ unaddressed needs.

Unfortunately, because we do not have access to the campus community listserv, we have been constrained in how we are able to share our story. The public representation of the negotiation process and the policing of Crouse-Hinds Hall has thus been tightly controlled by the Chancellor and his administration.

The outpouring of support from the faculty comes from their direct experiences with some of the administration’s tactics to discourage THE General Body. The reports from this weekend–specifically concerning the administration’s refusal to allow students in Crouse-Hinds to meet with their legal counsel–are a microcosm of what students have been experiencing throughout the sit-in:

–During the weekends, and during evening lockdown between 10PM and 7AM on weekdays, we are exposed to arbitrary DPS and fire safety check-ins and rules, denied access to study rooms, and in general kept in a heightened state of tension and surveillance.

–One morning, a student woke up to DPS taking pictures of sleeping students, without telling us how the pictures would be used.

–When we received individually addressed envelopes containing the Code of Student Conduct and Disruption Policies, it became apparent that our IDs had been scanned to catalog our comings and goings, rather than for our own safety (as the administration had assured us).

In one moment, Chancellor Syverud praises students for their leadership and historical precedent on campus, and in the next, his legal council threatens suspension and treats students as criminals.

The conditions in Crouse Hinds reflect the lack of good will Chancellor Syverud has taken in response to student grievance, needs, and solutions. After reviewing the list of student needs on November 5th, Chancellor Syverud said “They’re all important” and to choose among them “feels like asking somebody to choose between their children” (Nov. 5 official transcript). Despite this public statement to the importance of these issues, the majority of them remain unresolved in Chancellor Syverud’s “final response.”

Below you will find our outline of critical student needs that have not been met by the administration thus far and that require commitment and action.

Sincerely,

THE General Body

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  1. The Chancellor Has Not Committed to Addressing a Culture of Racism, Homophobia, and Hate Speech on Campus, and Must Support Diversity and Student Safety

Chancellor Syverud’s proposed changes to SU’s mission and vision statements take away references that describe “access to opportunity” and students from “diverse backgrounds.”  The unilateral decision to prematurely cut three years of the POSSE program, a merit based scholarship program located in cities, hints at the vision of Chancellor Syverud when it comes to decisions concerning students from diverse backgrounds. An Inside Higher Ed article on January 6, 2014 describes how Syverud, “plans to make changes to the recruitment and admissions practices at Syracuse after he takes office,” shifting to concerns over rankings instead of supporting a diverse and inclusive campus. Hannah Strong’s racist and homophobic comments only made more visible the persistent culture of racism and homophobia. While it is not just the university but an entire society that promotes this hateful thinking, SU can support a diverse campus of thoughtful students, faculty, and administration that works proactively to make the campus a safer space.

During negotiations, the Chancellor and upper-level administration committed to diversity trainings for senior leadership and to making web trainings available to the campus community by the end of the Spring 2015 semester. They have also told us, with no commitment to action, that they would consider many of our requests, often through Express Yourself workgroups. Some of these groups have not yet met, and not one has been specifically empowered to make such decisions. Our requests for the administration to make clear the specific decision making power of these workgroups in relation to many student needs remain unanswered.

THE General Body needs a concrete commitment to maintaining recruitment of students, staff, and faculty of color, abiding by the original commitment to POSSE, recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day, taking steps to add an anti-hate speech clause to the student code of conduct, investing in scholarships for students from diverse backgrounds, adding gender-neutral bathrooms to every campus building, and improving channels for reporting DPS violations.

 

  1. The Chancellor Has Not Committed To Investing in Mental Health, Psychiatric, and Sexual Assault Services for Students

THE General Body is disappointed by Chancellor Syverud’s failure to commit to addressing urgent student health needs. Currently, there is only one psychiatrist serving both SU and SUNY-ESF student bodies. There are only 17 counselors serving the student body–6 fewer than the International Association of Counseling Services, SU’s own accreditation agency, recommends. Despite a national conversation about sexual assault, where many campuses have opened new advocacy centers, SU closed its center without any input from students or faculty governance processes. Studies show that 1 in 5 college women will be sexually assaulted, and that up to 20% of college students have been diagnosed and treated with a mental health or substance use condition.

The Chancellor and his administration have said that they are seeking out ways to increase mental health support and that they are committed to investing in these resources. To follow through on this commitment, the Chancellor must commit to hiring two additional psychiatrists, a minimum of 6 new counselors (including counselors specifically supporting students with marginalized identities), and a minimum of one case manager per 3 counselors by the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester. We ask that the Chancellor’s administration inform students of all available options for counseling, that counselors follow up with all students referred to outside services.

Non-emergency medical transport must be made available immediately for mental as well as physical health appointments and services. Additionally, we ask that the Chancellor commit to implement structural changes to the campus mental health system through existing governance processes. Finally, we ask that the Chancellor and his administration engage in-depth student input for their preliminary plans to open a comprehensive Health and Wellness center.

To adequately serve students who have survived sexual assault, and prevent future assaults, we ask that Chancellor Syverud and his administration commit to opening a stand-alone center for survivors. To educate the campus community on available services, we ask that they ensure that the Yes Means Yes affirmative consent policy is supported and implemented across campus. To better support survivors, we ask that they mandate that SU’s Title IX Coordinator take the Vera House advocacy training, and that they ensure that stickers with clear information on assault services are in place in every single bathroom stall and dorm on campus. Finally, the Chancellor and his administration must honor the recommendations of the Workgroup on Sexual Violence Prevention, Education, and Advocacy by meeting with them and communicating clearly with the campus about any changes to policies or programs.

 

  1. The Chancellor Has Not Committed to Budget Transparency

During negotiations, Chancellor Syverud and upper-level administration provided inadequate budgetary information that had already been made public, and did not take any concrete steps to address THE General Body’s specific demands for transparency. The Chancellor must commit to providing necessary salary data to AAUP, and meeting regularly with the Senate Budget Committee. The Chancellor must also commit to making a comprehensive budget breakdown public–including student tuition, the $1.044 billion raised in The Campaign for SU, the amount of money spent on student services, community projects, scholarships, and the amount of money given to the university from both the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

  1. The Chancellor Needs to Take Immediate Steps to Improve Accessibility on Campus

Syracuse University prides itself on its disability studies program and its Center for Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies. However, for over a decade the university has searched for but not successfully hired an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator to oversee and enforce accessibility on campus violating the standards of the Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD). During negotiations, Chancellor Syverud demonstrated willingness to improve accessibility on campus by supporting an expedited search for an ADA coordinator (who will oversee a committee for access) and increasing flexibility in pay negotiations for this position.

In our grievances and needs document, we asked that the Chancellor create a centralized fund dedicated to providing equipment and services that create equal and inclusive access for people with disabilities. The Chancellor responded saying that this would happen within three months of an ADA Coordinator being hired. Given the challenges the institution has had in filling this position, and the wait that people with disabilities have already been subjected to, we need the Chancellor to immediately form a committee to identify and consolidate funding sources for disability access and expand OnCampus transportation. He also must charge the future ADA coordinator with assessing and monitoring The Office of Disability Services.

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