Tag Archives: support

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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The Movement Continues

A video of Paula Johnson, SU Professor of Law, speaking at today’s press conference before the closing of the sit-in.

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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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“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 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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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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