Tag Archives: students

GSO Censures the Administration for Changes to Health Care Plan


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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Founder and Director of 601 Tully Shares Letters of Support


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)


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A Message to Parents from a Member of THE General Body

Yesterday a parent asked us to respond to some negative comments made about THE General Body on a SU parents Facebook group. Jason Ashley volunteered to respond to some of the criticism. Here is the response:

Dear concerned parent(s):

I have volunteered to respond to some negative posts regarding THE General Body. I hope you do not feel as though I am invading your space, that is not my intention. Rather, I will try to provide you with my own perspective on our sit in and what THE General Body stands for.

Some specific concerns that I have seen: changes being made to our demand document, trying to stay in the spotlight, infringing on others’ rights, casting the university in a bad light to prospective students, diverting DPS officers away from their duties in other places on the campus…

Our demand document has always been a living document (and has always had timetables, those are not new), meaning it will change if we receive new information or feel that our wording does not truly represent our position. The changes that I assume are being referred to stem from clarifications of our position so that our values are fully represented and from the addition of student organizations that were not originally involved in the creation of the document. Indeed, we have received many additional demands from the SU community to add to the document that we simply have not put in, which is a very strong testament that our document, despite its length, is not exhaustive of the issues that students, faculty and staff face daily here at SU.

Further, I can assure you that the space we currently occupy is no “spotlight.” Our sit in is a last resort action meaning we do NOT want to be here, rather we HAVE to be here. If we could all go home, never sleep on a brick floor again, never have to wonder if DPS is watching over our shoulder, never be locked in a single room for an entire weekend and never have to endure the criticisms that some of you have raised, we would. However, we cannot. There are severe problems with our beloved Syracuse University, and we need to see that they are rectified. Make no mistake, this university is our home, and it is because we feel this connection to it that we want to make it better.

I have to completely disagree with the idea that we are casting SU in a bad light for prospective students. We are taking away the veil that many of us, and you, were tricked into believing. It is our duty to ensure that future students understand what they are signing up for. Services that we have a right to, that we were in fact promised upon coming to this university, are either absent or abhorrently mischaracterized. Student voices, indeed even faculty and staff voices, have not been given much, if any, credence; a shameful truth especially when SU can lay claim to a school with the first amendment etched into its facade, and citizenship etched into another.

Finally, the idea that diverting DPS officers to protect a small group of students for prolonged periods of time will endanger your child… is slightly valid. I concede that having DPS resources tied up protecting us (or watching over, you choose) may decrease the presence of DPS officers in other areas of the campus. However, your child is not necessarily safe under the purview of a DPS officer. They may (although not necessarily) be able to deter a physical threat, but many of our demands involve threats to your child’s safety that a DPS officer is simply not trained to defend against.

Combating microagressions is beyond the ability of DPS, even if they wanted to take them head on. Counseling a victim of sexual assault is not within the scope of DPS. Ensuring access to mental health services is not something the DPS Chief is responsible for. I ask that you look beyond the mere presence of an officer to determine whether or not your child is safe at SU. Safety is a very broad term, one that encompasses so much more than seeing a blue light, or a uniform, wherever you are. THE General Body is fighting for a holistic approach to student safety, so that your child will be safer than you think he or she is now, so that they will be as safe as you were promised when you sent them here.

I understand your concerns. You sent us here to get an education, to do well in our classes, to have fun, to make amazing friends, live the best years of our life with as much passion as you did, explore new areas of the world, become the first member of the family to attend university, to gain the skills to get a great job, to fall in love, to become better human beings, to respect you more, to take another step toward becoming an adult, to follow our dreams.

There is nothing more that we want than to do all of those things, yet we have found, during our time at SU (short and long), that the campus we are on must change. We did not sign up to be products of a corporation, to be voiceless, to be harassed, assaulted, unsupported, marginalized, stigmatized, scared, delegitimized, or taken advantage of. You did not send us here to be mere sheep, to simply stand by and say nothing when injustice occurs right in front of us.

We want your blessing, your nod of approval that we are doing the right thing. But, we are right. And we will fight for our rights, and the rights of everyone on this campus including your children, whether you stand with us or not. For justice is not signified by the number of people that occupy a particular side of an issue. Nor does justice necessarily come in the form of what you may believe to be normal behavior. Justice is simply the right thing to do.

If you have questions or concerns about what we are doing, please, reach out to us. Go to our website, http://www.thegeneralbody.org, visit our Facebook page, talk to us. We want you to understand what is going on, we want you on our side because it is the right side to be on. We are making slow progress toward a more just, safe and transparent community, a community you may already think we have here at SU. We are not looking to overthrow the administration, we just want to be heard, our needs met and our rights fulfilled.

If you are still reading, thank you. We truly appreciate your time.

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