Tag Archives: labor

THE GENERAL BODY ENDS 18 DAY SIT-IN WITH A GROWING BASE OF FACULTY, ALUMNI, STUDENT, AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT

ending sit in

Today at 1:30 pm in Crouse-Hinds Hall, THE General Body met with Dean Bea Gonzalez to discuss six urgent student needs that Chancellor Syverud had refused to acknowledge in his “final response” last week. Chancellor Syverud had been personally invited to attend by a delegation of faculty supporters, who delivered an invitation to his home two days ago. He appointed Dean Bea Gonzalez–the former “liaison” between the administration and THE General Body–to go in his place.

During the 1:30pm meeting, it quickly became clear that Chancellor Syverud did not enable his representative to make any decisions on his behalf. “I am not here to speak for the Chancellor,” she said in response to THE General Body’s  six needs. Before the meeting, the Chancellor had received the six synthesized university community needs as a Good Faith Commitment Contract. “From day one this sit-in has asked for commitments from Chancellor Syverud on crucial student needs. I find it unreasonable and irresponsible that the Chancellor would send someone without the power to make any commitments on day 18,” said Ben Kuebrich.

Dean Gonzalez expressed a desire to return to negotiations, but when pressed, was unable to clarify what that would entail in light of Chancellor Syverud’s  “final response.”

After the meeting, THE General Body held a press conference, where senior Colton Jones announced that the sit-in would be ending that afternoon. The decision to end the sit-in follows a growth in campus pressure on the Chancellor to commit to addressing urgent student needs. Over the past week, faculty, alumni, staff, community groups, and campus organizations have written letters to the Chancellor urging him to sign a written commitment to address student needs. These letters also urge the Chancellor to sign a non-retaliation agreement, which would protect students, faculty, staff, and others involved in the sit-in from facing punitive action.

THE General Body ended the sit-in on a strong note, with a clear sense of support from the campus.  “We decided to end the sit-in on our own terms,” said undergraduate student Angelina Vargas. In addition to statements of support from alumni, students, and faculty, THE General Body has received solidarity statements from 1199SEIU, a coalition of Syracuse community groups, Adjuncts United, and Cold Case Justice Initiative and Democratizing Knowledge, among others.

At the press conference, available as audio here, PhD student Tessa Brown reviewed the sit-in’s achievements and how far THE General Body has come. Vani Kannan, PhD Student, discussed the future of the movement. Law school professor Paula Johnson also spoke, expressing her respect and admiration for the students of THE General Body, her belief that they have changed campus for the better, and her commitment on behalf of the faculty to stand with them as the movement continues into next semester.

Following the press conference, students clapped, hugged, gathered their belongings, and exited the building. Carrying signs that read ‘Coming Back Stronger,” they marched with a delegation of faculty and staff up to Hendricks Chapel, where DAT Rally was held nearly three weeks ago. After saying final goodbyes, many students returned to Crouse-Hinds to clean the building.

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Solidarity from 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East

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SU Labor Studies Working Group Statement of Solidarity

As an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students, the Labor Studies Working Group supports, and stands in solidarity with the students sitting in at Crouse-Hinds Hall. The Labor Studies Working Group has aspired to raise consciousness about the conditions and concerns of all workers within the Syracuse University community. We are impressed with the students of THE General Body in their efforts to fight for a more inclusive and democratic university. We are amazed by their organizing skills and tenacity to stick to a core set of demands that represent their many diverse struggles.

Like THE General Body, we are concerned with the lack of transparency when it comes to decisions that affect workers on campus.  This lack of transparency has intensified with the new administration. For example, for the first time in nearly 50 years the American Association of University Professors at Syracuse were not provided with critical salary data to write the Z report so important to faculty in understanding the salary structures at the university. The administration also has not been cooperative in meeting with the University Senate Budget Committee.

Like THE General Body, we believe democratic inclusion and shared governance requires that the Administration actually responds to feedback from faculty and student-run institutions. The decision of the Board of Trustees to reject the Senate’s recommendations on tenure and promotion policy is a disturbing and anti-democratic action. We hope the administration takes seriously the recent Senate motions calling on the Board of Trustees to reconsider this decision, and more fully explain their actions.

Like THE General Body, we are concerned about marginalized identities on campus. In particular, we are concerned with the many precarious working populations on campus. This includes contingent part time and adjunct faculty who despite doing the most important thing on campus – teaching – are poorly compensated and lack benefits. This includes the grad students who also teach and lack even a basic living wage. This includes staff and other service workers who deserve value and respect as they are the real foundation of how this university functions.

We respect what the students are doing in Crouse-Hinds. Any scholar of labor knows that sometimes resistance must take the form of direct action and bodily occupation to force systems of power to respond to demands from below. We also respect THE General Body’s unity and solidarity across different concerns and identities that have also been critical to labor struggles throughout history.  We call on the Syracuse University Administration to address THE General Body’s articulation of “needs and solutions” with not only future promises and reviews, but concrete actions and explanations issued in writing.
Signed (In alphabetical order)

Parvathy Binoy, Graduate Student, Geography

John Burdick, Professor of Anthropology
Linda Carty, Associate Professor, African American Studies

Collin Chambers, Undergraduate Student, Geography

Patrick Cihon, Associate Professor of Law & Public Policy, Emeritus

Leyla Fallhan, Graduate Student, Political Science

Brian Hennigan, Graduate Student, Geography, Graduate Students United

Matt Huber, Assistant Professor of Geography

Natasha Koshy, Graduate Student, Social Science

Vincent Lloyd, Assistant Professor of Religion

Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, Assistant Professor, Food Studies

Don Mitchell, Distinguished Professor of Geography

Chandra Mohanty, Distinguished Professor of Woman’s and Gender Studies

Laurel Morton, President, Adjuncts United

Jason Newton, PhD candidate, History Department

William Oliver, Graduate Student, Sociology

Tracy Peterchak, Graduate Student, Sociology

Jessica Posner, Part-Time Instructor in Transmedia Core, Department of Transmedia

Gretchen Purser, Assistant Professor of Sociology

Tod Rutherford, Professor of Geography

Eileen Schell, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric

Jessie Speer, Graduate Student, Geography

Fabiola Ortiz, Graduate Student, Anthropology

Matthew Victor, Undergraduate Student, Newhouse

Evan Weissman, Assistant Professor, Food Studies

James Williams, Adjunct Professor, College of Law

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