Tag Archives: solidarity

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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Letter of Solidarity from Colgate University Students

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To THE General Body and students of Syracuse University,

As you enter the next stage of your protest after spending 18 consecutive days in Crouse-Hinds Hall, we salute your resolve, and we, at Colgate University, stand in solidarity with you and your movement for change on your campus. We wholeheartedly support your ongoing battle and we are outraged at the complete lack of respect and dignity the Syracuse University administration has shown THE General Body. We are disheartened by the University’s lack of response to your reasonable and necessary demands. You are fighting for the safety, health, inclusion, and security of all Syracuse students and your fight has not gone unnoticed. Your struggle is our struggle.

Our admiration for your dedication runs deep. We too are strongly against the changes made in the Fast Forward platform, and agree with you that Syracuse University needs to re-wind and focus on creating an open environment for students of all backgrounds. We support your fight for campus accessibility, divestment from fossil fuels, a positive and safe sexual climate, inclusivity and transparency, attention to mental health services, the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day and an overall environment that benefits students of all backgrounds.

We stand firmly against the actions of the Syracuse University administration, which has locked students in over the weekend, put in barriers to block student visibility, stationed security guards at the space, and taken other steps to block justice and the right to freedom of assembly. At our own sit-in, we first-hand experienced the importance of this right and are appalled at what has been happening during THE General Body’s movement. As we are still in the process of an ongoing and long struggle to transform the climate of Colgate University, it should be noted that our struggles are part of a general struggle to transform education from its corporate model to a democratic and equal one.

Individuals must work together to combat systemic and cultural oppression and marginalization. We are inspired by your efforts and send you solidarity and support as your movement continues.

In solidarity,

Association of Critical Collegians
Black Student Union
Clean Water Coalition
Hamilton Center for the Arts
International Socialist Organization
Oxfam America at Colgate University
Students for Justice in Palestine

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FACULTY AND STUDENTS MARCH TO CHANCELLOR SYVERUD’S HOUSE

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On Tuesday, November 18, more than 25 faculty, staff and students of THE General Body marched from the administration building to Chancellor Kent Syverud’s house to hand-deliver the following invitation:

 

Dear Chancellor Syverud,

The Students, staff and faculty of THE General Body request your presence on Thursday, November Twentieth, Two Thousand Fourteen, between ten o’clock am and three o’clock pm, at your convenience, in Crouse Hinds Hall.

We wish to meet on critical university needs left inadequately addressed in your final response. These include: maintaining all scholarships and recruitment for students of color, students of lower socioeconomic status, and other diverse student populations; expanding mental health providers, advocacy against sexual assault and rape culture; expanded counseling staff; and financial transparency.

“We are sending the Chancellor our own ‘final’ response,” said General Body member Benjamin Kuebrich. “While this doesn’t represent the end of our work, the list includes student needs that must be acted on immediately.”

Faculty were blocked by DPS officers from walking up to the Chancellor’s house to give him the invitation. Only one faculty member, who had been invited to an event the Chancellor was hosting, was allowed entrance.

“Thank you for the letter,” said Chancellor Syverud. “I will be sure to read it.”

During the first negotiation meeting with THE General Body, Chancellor Syverud remarked: “They’re all important [the demands],” and to choose among them “feels like asking somebody to choose between their children.”

“This is a chance for the Chancellor to prove his commitment to the students and not just the financial pockets of the university,” said General Body member Kim Powell.

This action at Chancellor Syverud’s house follows yesterday’s rally on SU campus, where 150 faculty, students, and community members gathered under the rain to protest the administration’s treatment of THE General Body. Over the weekend, students in Crouse-Hinds Hall were issued individually-addressed envelopes containing the Student Code of Conduct and Disruption policies. The next day their legal counsel Janis McDonald, a tenured professor of law at SU, was turned away when she tried to meet with them.

The administration’s denial of students’ basic right to meet with an attorney galvanized faculty across campus in support of the students. They responded  by writing numerous letters to the Chancellor and standing outside Crouse-Hinds Hall all throughout Sunday holding signs of support.

“We applaud the tenacity and the thoroughness of the student action. They are dedicated, prepared and very organized. They are truly concerned about these issues, this institution and this community,” wrote McDonald in an open letter to the campus community. “Many of us on the faculty support and respect their peaceful efforts to procure a commitment from the administration to move forward in an integral and concrete manner with specific terms and deadlines”

THE General Body has also received a letter of support signed by the 1199SEIU, Adjuncts United, and a broad coalition of local community organizations.

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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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Statement of Support from Members of the Syracuse Community for The General Body and Student Calls for Diversity and Transparency at Syracuse University

We are inspired by the student groups organizing on the Syracuse University campus for diversity and transparency (a summary of their grievances, taken from their website, is below). Their movement embodies principles of inclusivity, democratic participation in one’s community, care for others and direct action in support of the public good.

At a time when it is common to hear complaints of youth apathy, we commend these students for their dedication and thoughtful action, and we call on the chancellor and the administration to respond to the substance of student demands with meaningful dialogue and action. Having inscribed the words of the first amendment on the walls of Newhouse III, it would be particularly hypocritical for SU’s administration to repress the rights of students to freedom of speech and to peaceably assemble.

The Syracuse community has a long history of social movement organizing and civil disobedience to further peace and social justice. As organizations committed to continuing that organizing tradition for a more just and equitable future, we stand in solidarity with the organizing work and demands of The General Body, a united front of student organizations at Syracuse University.

For more background and the 43-page document of grievances and demands see www.thegeneralbody.org.

Signed by Syracuse Peace Council, Syracuse Greens, Syracuse Community Choir, ArtRage Gallery, Peace Action of CNY, Bread and Roses Collective House, Westcott Neighborhood Association, SEIU 1199, Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN), Central New York National Organization of Women (CNY NOW).

(any organizations that wish to sign on to this should contact carol@peacecouncil.net

Available at the Syracuse Peace Council website here.

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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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“Diversity is a Reality”

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Below is a letter from Danielle Reed’s mother, which Danielle read at our press conference today:

Parents Office and Chancellor Syverud,

Diversity is a reality and you do not have a right to reject and not support students and organizations based on disability (PL 94-142, IDEA etc protections) nor economic or ethnic discrimination. You may cloak it as needed budget cuts or default to other reasons but its apparent your attempts as stated by student investigations. You need to revisit these secretive changes. If you do not heed the populous, the university will not flourish as it has in previous years. If you do not take responsibly and admit to these grave errors, you failed if you came to SU to be a great leader. You inevitably choose to obliterate years of hard work and growth to be an inclusive university as evidenced in the previous vision and mission statements. You technically may have a right to not solicit parent or student approval for these actions but ultimately the university is to serve the students and communities. You will be gone after several years but my child’s education and access to mental and financial need will impact her and my entire family for generations to come.

Sincerely,
Ms. Karla Y. Russell
Curriculum & Instruction with Conflict Resolution M.Ed
Special Education Facilitator B.S.
Online Student for Certification as an Addiction Counselor
Community Activist

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A Follow-Up Letter to the Chancellor

Dear Chancellor Syverud,

In my last letter, I criticized you for the lack of substance in your “Orange Friends” emails. I want to applaud you for breaking that pattern in your message to the university community last night. But I also made another request: that you take THE General Body seriously and talk to us. And in this sense your email, with the mixed messages it offers, falls flat.

You have asked us to “work collaboratively with the duly elected representatives and governing bodies that are currently in place,” suggesting that you have an interest in the democratic processes of shared governance. It’s nice to hear this, since we are also invested in these processes. But it’s hard to take this claim seriously when in the very same email, you unilaterally shut down negotiations with THE General Body. It’s not hard to read between the lines. You are only invested in democratic processes to the extent that they occur within an institutional framework that you control. If you wish to set the record straight, you should recognize that a protest movement like ours represents democracy in its purest form.

In apologizing for the “process and communications” related to decisions about the Advocacy Center and Posse Program, you have again broken somewhat from your past attitudes and taken a step in the right direction. But why the excessive limitations in the scope of your apology? Your unwillingness to express regret for the content of the decisions rather than merely the processes by which they were made and communicated makes this apology seem half-hearted. This sense is bolstered by the fact that your apology contains defensive language about your “sincere” efforts to take everyone’s feelings into account. If you wish to be seen as sincere, honor the university community members whose marginality was aggravated by your decisions with an apology that does not defend your actions or include such limitations in scope.

I urge you to caution as we move forward. The role DPS has been playing in the protest thus far has been troubling enough. By sending security forces – some of them armed – to subject your own students to surveillance and harassment for exercising their right to free speech, exhibiting independent, creative, and critical thinking, and working to actualize their own social visions you have already done grievous harm to the capacity of this university to educate. If you truly desire to improve SU’s academic reputation, it will be helpful to deescalate the role DPS is playing in these protests. I hope you will work toward creating an environment in which students’ development as leaders and intellectuals is not hampered by a heavy-handed use of authority.

Sincerely,

Daniel Cheifer
PhD Candidate, Religion Department
Humanities Center Dissertation Fellow
Syracuse University

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Letter of Support from Geography Faculty

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As faculty members in the Syracuse University Department of Geography, we wish to express our support for, and solidarity with, the students sitting in at Crouse Hinds. As the occupation enters its second week, we are impressed with THE General Body’s clear articulation of what Syracuse needs to become a more just, inclusive, better university. We are impressed with THE General Body’s steadfastness. And we are particularly impressed that they have forced into open discussion across campus issues that we have long complained about, sometimes advocated for, but felt relatively powerless to address.

Like THE General Body, we insist that there needs to be much greater transparency as well as real, effective student, staff and faculty involvement in decision making, and especially in the financial operation of the University. There needs to be a greater commitment to, not an erosion of, shared governance. There needs to be a commitment by the Administration and the Board of Trustees to respect the processes and the will of the University Senate.

Like THE General Body, we are concerned about Syracuse University’s fading commitment to community-engaged research and teaching as a core part of the University’s mission. We are concerned about SU’s apparent withdrawal from its commitment to being a progressive force in the city and region (as imperfectly as that role may have been performed in the past) and its apparent recommitment to once again becoming an aloof institution in Syracuse but not of it.

Like THE General Body we agree the University must remain committed to recruiting a student body that is as diverse as it is talented, that it must remain an institution that is open, welcoming, and supportive to students from diverse backgrounds, and that it must recommit resources to assure that it is so.

Like THE General Body, we are concerned that hasty decisions, such as the one to close the Advocacy Center without real provision for continuance of its services, undermine the services and support students need to thrive at Syracuse University and threaten to make the campus both a physically and intellectually less safe space for some.

And like THE General Body, we know that the University is not a corporation and should not be run like one. The contemporary model of highly instrumentalized education is not only flawed but broken and poorly serves the teaching and research mission of the University. The single-minded pursuit of better rankings perverts the educational mission by putting the cart (faux-prestige) ahead of the horse (high quality learning, teaching, research, and creative endeavors).

We admire the students at Crouse Hinds and are impressed with what they are fighting for. We admire and support their taking of their education into their own hands because in doing so they are helping to make Syracuse University a better university than it currently is. We admire THE General Body because it is at the forefront of a new wave of students who will positively change the landscape of higher education. We call on the Syracuse University Administration to recognize THE General Body’s articulation of “needs and solutions” for what they are – symptoms of significant problems at Syracuse University – to address them with all the serious consideration they deserve, and to enunciate clearly and in writing how it will work collaboratively across campus to address them.

Signed (alphabetically),
Matt Huber
Susan Millar
Don Mitchell
Mark Monmonier
Anne Mosher
Tom Perreault
Jane Read
Jonnell Robinson
Tod Rutherford
Robert Wilson
Jamie Winders

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