Tag Archives: negotiation

Anthropology Professor and Chair Urges Chancellor to Move Forward with a Respectful Negotiation

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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.

Very sincerely,

John Burdick
Professor and Chair
Department of Anthropology​

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Writing Instructor Discusses Chancellor’s Bullying Tactics

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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.

Respectfully yours,

Ivy Kleinbart
Writing Instructor / Writing Program
Faculty Liaison / SU Project Advance
Syracuse University
ikleinba@syr.edu

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THE General Body responds to Chancellor Syverud’s “Final Offer”

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After two days of not communicating with us, Chancellor Syverud’s e-mail of a “final offer” (see below), copied to the entire university community, is counterproductive to the negotiation process. The administration has made real promises, but too many responses are vague and direct us to preexisting processes that are not transparent and disinclude student voices.

THE General Body is unsatisfied with this offer and continues to demand the administration recognize our outcry against the rapid and undemocratic revision of university goals and missions. We reiterate our insistence that undermining the demographics of our student body, the mental and sexual health of our students, the accessibility and safety of our campus, and the relationship of Syracuse with its community are not appropriate or democratic ways to balance our budget.

We will be holding a press conference tomorrow at 3pm in Crouse-Hinds. A longer press release with more details of our response is forthcoming.

In solidarity,

THE General Body

To read Chancellor Syverud’s e-mail in full,  Continue reading

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More than Bricks in the Wall

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The upper level administration’s latest tactic: a wall to keep the outside community from connecting with students who are sitting-in. This morning a construction fence was erected outside the windows of Crouse-Hinds Hall, blocking visibility and access for those trying to connect with students staging the sit-in. This will not deter students from sitting until they get a written action plan from the administration. THE General Body  has made tremendous progress in this regard.

The University honors the fall of the Berlin wall then its top level administrators put a fence around student protesters. THE General Body knows historically what these walls mean, they know what side of the fence they are on.

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Update from Tonight’s Meeting

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Students sitting in greet supporters through the windows at Crouse-Hinds hall.

In tonight’s meeting with senior Vice President and Dean Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz, Associate Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina, and Dean Bea González, students continued to express concern that the available decision-making channels are not transparent and do not consider student input. Students expressed particular concern about the fact that both the campus sexual assault advocacy center and the POSSE scholarship program were terminated without any student input. Inside Crouse-Hinds Hall, students spoke about several key goals which have been at the center of THE General Body’s concerns:

1.) the need for the student body president to email the entire undergraduate student body;

2.) university divestment from fossil fuels

3.) student representation on the university’s Fast Forward committees

4.) honoring the contract for the POSSE program; and

5.) increasing accessibility on campus.

While THE General Body and administration made productive steps on points 1, 2, and 5, students are still waiting for commitment on the part of the administration for increased student representation on Fast Forward committees, and for the university to honor its original contract with the POSSE scholarship program. Several major points of discussion remain pending, such as reinstatement of an advocacy center that provides similar services to the one that was closed in May; the need for adequate mental health services on campus; and support for students with marginalized identities.

“These are life and death issues, issues that affect the health of the entire campus community,” said sophomore Angelina Vargas. “We will remain here until we get solutions.”

Throughout the sit-in, the demands have been consistent and they center on the following issues: transparency in decision-making processes and support for policies and programs that foster student safety, diversity, and inclusion. Prior to Wednesday’s preliminary meeting it was understood by the upper level administration that they would be receiving a preliminary document that would be updated by their meeting on Thursday. Since Thursday there have been minor revisions to the portion dealing with needs around disability and access. Otherwise, the document has remained consistent and is structured to keep dialog open.

The campus community has taken up this invitation, and THE General Body continues to receive incoming demands/needs, demonstrating the many unaddressed concerns and issues faced by students, faculty and staff on this campus. They also serve as evidence for the faith the campus community is placing on THE General Body’s negotiations with administration and the need for an open channel of communication and flexible negotiation process that can accommodate incoming demands and needs. The community’s choice to input demands via our website and through direct communication with members of THE General Body also reflects the broader community’s concern with the fact that the administration has overridden established governance processes in favor of unproductive work groups and ad hoc task forces. These groups do not have the power to produce the structural changes that the campus community needs.

“The upper level administration has been constructing a narrative that THE General Body’s list of demands has been shifting significantly, and that this is the reason we have not moved forward with negotiations,” said PhD student Yanira Rodríguez. “Negotiations have been hampered by the fact that Dean González reminded us repeatedly that she cannot make any decisions in relation to the demands,” said Rodríguez.

Following Sunday’s meeting, the administration published a recap of the weekend’s events that identified several points—such as prioritizing increases in the minimum graduate assistant stipend to follow this year’s 7% increase—as commitments that arose out of THE General Body’s demands. THE General Body is still waiting for a commitment to a specific percentage increase that will allow graduate assistants, who are often teachers at this university, to have a living wage. Currently, the 7% does not meet a living wage, and means that some graduate assistants on campus only earn $13,000/year. THE General Body is asking for clarification on stipend increases to ensure that they meet a living wage.

Negotiations with upper-level administration will resume Monday afternoon at 4PM.

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THE General Body and Administration Cover Important Ground, Identify Next Steps

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Today THE General Body enters its seventh day of the sit-in and continues a weekend of talks with Dean Gonzalez regarding how to move forward and map out a timetable for the list of needs. It’s time to reflect on what the sit-in has accomplished so far.

On Saturday, students discussed seven points from the list of needs with Dean Gonzalez:

  • allowing the Student Association president to e-mail the entire undergraduate student body;
  • freezing direct investments in fossil fuels and minimizing fossil fuel investments in mutual funds;
  • granting students 1/3 representation in each Fast Forward committee (with 2/3 of that group being composed of undergraduate students);
  • reversal of cuts to the POSSE contract, which was prematurely terminated in two cities
  • immediately beginning a search for an ADA coordinator to improve accessibility on campus and making sure that they are hired and empowered;
  • merging elements of the Multicultural Spring Program into the existing “Own the Dome” structure
  • implementing diversity training for senior administrators and the campus at large; and
  • implementing a living wage and improved services for graduate staff and commuters.

Pending a written commitment from the administration, they agree to move forward with the following points. While there is still  a long way to go, the following gains indicate that there is room for productive collaboration.

  • The undergraduate Student Association president will be allowed monitored access to all undergraduate student emailing. For years, students have been advocating for full, unrestricted e-mail access to the student body. Presently, the administration has agreed to vetted, bi-monthly emails; THE General Body is negotiating for the e-mail list to function like a listserv to facilitate transparent communication with students about important campus issues.
  • The Socially Responsible Investment Matters Committee will meet with Divest SU. This is an important step forward in working towards transparency about the university’s investments.
  • The University will immediately begin an inclusive search process for an ADA coordinator. This is evidence that the university is taking important steps towards increasing accessibility on campus.
  • THE General Body’s proposal to enhance campus trainings by adding intersectional trainings throughout the various divisions of the university will be taken up and considered by the university. These trainings will be conducted by Conversations Around Race and Ethnicity (CARE) and Safer People Safer Spaces (SPSS). This indicates that the university is taking seriously THE General Body’s proposals to address the lack of safety and understanding on campus, particularly for students, faculty, and staff with marginalized identities, and the necessity that social justice assume an important role in academic work.

Beyond the accomplishments through the negotiations, THE General Body has accomplished creating a space for democratic processes, teach-ins, and education around issues affecting the 25,000 students at SU and SUNY-ESF. It is important to note that this is a student, community, and faculty-led initiative, and serves as an example of the kind of dialogue and transparency that we are calling for from the administration.

THE General Body will be meeting with Dean Gonzalez today at 5PM to work through additional needs and solutions.

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