Tag Archives: THE general body

Cooperative Federal Expresses Solidarity with THE General Body

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On November 19, 2014, the Board of Directors of Cooperative Federal, a committee of volunteers elected by their fellow members to govern Cooperative Federal’s credit union, unanimously passed this resolution:

Statement of Solidarity with THE General Body at Syracuse University

Cooperative Federal expresses solidarity with THE General Body and their movement for structural changes to the administration of Syracuse University related to transparency, diversity, and safety.

Our Credit Union Aligns with the 11 Grievance and Need Points of THE General Body:

TRANSPARENCY: As a cooperative entity we uphold transparency in our operations through governance by a Board elected democratically by our shareholding members on the basis of one member, one vote. Institutions should exist to serve people, not the other way around. Our investment in Syracuse to date is over $110 million. All of our members’ money is put to work in and for the local community.

We oppose the corporatization of education and exclusion of the students (stakeholders, if not technically shareholders) and the campus community from access to budgetary information, and the blocking of the inclusion of wording that supports diversity, citizenship, accessibility, democracy, and community engagement in any mission statement. Budgetary decisions should also respect and respond to requests for an increase in library and graduate student employee funding, as well as divestment from fossil fuels.

DIVERSITY: As a financing entity, Cooperative Federal takes great pride in re-investing all of our member’s savings into the community of those we represent – highlighting a culture of mutual aid and service across the diverse membership we are dedicated to cultivating. More than any other financial institution in Syracuse, we provide services to those underserved by conventional for-profit banks – including a growing number of recent immigrants and refugees, from every corner of the globe. Most of our members live on low incomes and a majority of our members are people of color.

Our own beginnings are in line with many campus movements of the last thirty years. Cooperative Federal was organized by a group of local activists seeking a viable and radical alternative to global corporate banks, specifically at that time, divestment from the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa. We continue to uphold a mission of fair services for people of color, single women, the LGBT community, activists and other low-income or nontraditional workers; through special loan terms, Servicios Bilingues, and a “commitment to serve all members fully”.

SAFETY: As an entity of the people, we fully respect and encourage the right to a peaceable, public redress of grievances as enshrined in our Constitution and traditions. This includes full inclusion of provision for mental health and sexual assault services, accessibility for those with disabilities, and preventative measures for those identifying as marginalized, as put forth within THE General Body’s list of needs.

Each member of a community should not only have the same rights as others whom share the same equity of being a functioning and contributing person within an institution, but also the same expectations towards a system and community of services that evolves with THE General Body and the needs they identify.

Prefiguring Society with Our Own Lives and Institutions

Each member, regardless of their wealth or ability, has an equal vote and an equal share in our success at Cooperative Federal, a model which we believe is key to a system that works for people, not for profit. Private educational organizations can take steps within their investments, campus services, and charter to ensure that they include such values as well.

Based on this belief and our record of engagement and service, Cooperative Federal proudly expresses our support for THE General Body at Syracuse University, and student movements everywhere against discrimination, unequal privilege, and lack of student community access to administrative redress. We honor the students fighting to demonstrate another way is possible within our current society, and stand with you throughout this work in progress.

In cooperation and solidarity,

Frank Raymond Cetera, President
Cooperative Federal
Syracuse’s Community Development Credit Union

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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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Cold Case Justice Initiative and the Democratizing Project Support THE General Body, Demand a Transparent and Accountable University

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Dear Chancellor Kent Syverud,

The Cold Case Justice Initiative and the Democratizing Project at Syracuse University are in full support of the actions taken by the student-led organization called THE General Body (TGB). We have followed and participated in the student sit-ins over the past two- weeks and the negotiations that have occurred, and urge you to continue to work with TGB in meeting their needs.

We also write to register our strong objections to the administration’s handling of the legitimate concerns the students have raised and object to the intensifying acts of intimidation, harassment, and threats that have been waged against them. Members of THE General Body are not our enemies; they are our integral members of our community and they deserve our respect and support. We thus condemn their treatment in the strongest possible terms.

The students who have organized the sit-ins and articulated university needs are the best Syracuse University has to offer. Their level of commitment and enthusiasm in improving the educational landscape and environment of Syracuse University is evident. Although they have been harassed, intimidated, and targeted by DPS, they have remained steadfast. These students must not be penalized for their grievances and actions, but rather, the university must actively work with them in solving the deep-seated issues which they have brought to the fore and that have long affected our University.

The events that have transpired this semester present us with many challenges but also offer us educational opportunities and avenues for change. Considering the political and social climate in many colleges and universities across the country, the needs expressed by our students are not unreasonable. In fact, students are only seeking what a world- class University should already provide: a conducive learning environment that is racially and ethnically diverse, free of discriminatory practices, cognizant of students’ needs, considerate of the changing student demographics, and supportive of student health and well-being overall.

The students have called for transparency and meaningful participation in the decision- making at the University. These demands concern all constituencies at Syracuse University and reverberate into the surrounding community. We call on you to return to the negotiating table with the students. There can be no final word on these matters until there is consensus by the SU community on the issues the students have raised and which impact all of us: students, faculty, and staff who call Syracuse University our home.

While the sit-in might seem a distraction to the daily operations of the University, let us remind you that some of the best changes in American higher education have been the direct result of student discontent and organizing. We thus urge you to reassure us, as well as THE General Body, that you will continue to meet with them and not penalize, threaten, or punish them for their important contributions to our university community.

TGB is the conscience of this university. As members of Syracuse University, we also speak in support of the students’ integral efforts. Together with TGB, we therefore demand a university that is transparent, accountable, and most of all, respectful of every member’s basic civil rights and civil liberties.

Sincerely,

Cold Case Justice Initiative

Democratizing Knowledge Project

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Alumnus, Adjunct Faculty, and Two-Time Chancellor’s Award Recipient Reflects on Value of Scholarship in Action

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Dear Chancellor Syverud, Dean Gonzalez, and members of THE General Body,

I write this to express my sincere concern for the fate of Syracuse University, and to offer a humble suggestion for its future.

My name is John Cardone, recent Public Artist in Residence with the Near West Side Initiative, and adjunct faculty in the University Honors Program. I am also a recent alumnus of SU with a degree in Sculpture and a minor in Creative Writing. I was an Imagining America Engagement Fellow, a VPA Scholar, member of the Honors Program, and two time recipient of the Chancellor’s award for public and community service. During my time at SU, I founded an ESL tutoring Program at Nottingham HS, assisted Prof. Sarah McCoubrey in starting after-school programs at the Blodgett School, and Coordinated a volunteer tutoring program at the Center for New Americans. I was also one of the key students involved in the development and maintenance of 601 Tully with Prof. Marion Wilson, a pursuit which brought me endless joy and invaluable experience. Suffice it to say that SU has served me extremely well in the past six years, and I in turn have done my best to give my service the university and to the city itself. And it precisely because of this exchange of service, this engagement of scholarship, that I consider my time in Syracuse to be the most valuable learning experience of my life.

For several years I believed that my positive experiences in Syracuse were brought about entirely by my own doing, and indeed there were many people who did their best to reassure my beliefs. However, I now realize that it was not merely my own initiative but the individuals, communities, and values of SU that gave me the resources to expand beyond my bubble of a self-concerned student into a wider world of very real need and of problems worth solving. Moreover, it was precisely the values of community engagement and civic involvement that salvaged my experience from being one of apathetic theoretical discourse to one of urgent and practical problem solving. Continue reading

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Women’s and Gender Studies Department Chair Supports THE General Body’s Goal to Achieve Meaningful and Lasting Change

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Dear Chancellor Syverud,

Many of my colleagues have been truly eloquent in their pointed and poignant letters to you, written from so many different points of view and social locations. They have offered astute lessons in the history of social movements, in the first amendment, in what it means to be an educator, on what it means to be a part of this institution and dedicate one’s career to this place and its thriving, and more. I have been moved by their writings just as I have been deeply inspired by so many SU students who have demonstrated intellectual depth, powerful reflection, dialogic engagement, and a profound dedication to understanding the indivisible nature of myriad forms of injustice and harm.

As the students have well articulated and described, this means that what may seem, on the surface, to be divergent and separate issues and problems must be addressed together, not sequentially or separately. Questions of campus accessibility, mental health support and services, the Posse scholarships, endemic sexual assault on campus and the need for advocacy and a transformed campus climate, ongoing experiences with widespread racism/sexism/homophobia/ableism on campus, ADA compliance, environmental sustainability, uneven and sometimes antagonistic relations with campus and community police forces, and more are interrelated. Together, these issues and more are part of the shape and pattern of structural inequalities and asymmetrical life opportunities not only “out there” in the world, but inside “here,” at SU and in the communities in which we live and work

THE General Body represents a coalition of some of our most dedicated and engaged students coming together across a diverse (and what many others see as a divergent) range of issues. Their actions, words, and vision of what’s possible by working collectively across differences to achieve meaningful and lasting change, alongside the compelling vision of so many faculty and staff, should be seen as inspiring and as a great opportunity to forge dialogue and work toward improving SU on these and other myriad fronts.

The students and faculty are calling forth a sense of the greater possibilities before us to find ways to craft a more just, reflective, inclusive, and meaningful educational environment for all. Will you take up the invitation before you?

Most sincerely,

Vivian M. May
Associate Professor and Chair
Women’s & Gender Studies Department
National Women’s Studies Association President, 2014-2016

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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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Professor of Political Science Discusses University’s Intimidation Tactics

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Dear Chancellor Syverud,

I am saddened by the apparent escalation of administration pressure on the student protesters calling themselves The General Body. The erection of a fence around their protest seemed intended either to hide the fact of their protest from the outside world, to hide potential eviction action, or both. Now it seems that University legal counsel has delivered letters to movement leaders, addressed to them individually, containing warnings relating to the student code of conduct. This would seem to contradict earlier assurances of amnesty. Further, the students are apparently being denied access to legal advisors who have tried to speak to them. These intimidation tactics are unworthy of a great University with strong traditions of support for public engagement and democratic public action.

I urge you to dismantle the fence, avoid any further escalation of the situation, and to keep channels of discussion open, both with The General Body, and with SU faculty. I must tell you that there is deep and widespread concern among the faculty regarding what is perceived as high-handed and authoritarian action by this administration, concern the like of which I have not seen in my 27 years at SU. Escalation of pressures on peaceful student protesters will only deepen these concerns, and worsen relations between the administration and the wider University community.

Mark Rupert
Professor of Political Science
Syracuse University
merupert@syr.edu
http://syr.academia.edu/MarkRupert

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“We Still Do Not Have a Safe Space”

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Below is a statement said by Laura Cohen at our press conference today:

My name is Laura Cohen and I am a senior majoring in magazine and women’s and gender studies. I’m going to speak on THE General Body’s position regarding the administration’s “final response” to the Advocacy Center and sexual assault services.

Syracuse University, as well as most other universities, has a culture of rape. Rape culture means that in certain spaces, rape and sexual assault is pervasive and normalized due to our attitudes about gender and sexuality. This culture includes sexual objectification, victim-blaming, and the denial of rape and sexual assault as a real issue. When one in four college women report surviving rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime, there can no longer be a refusal to acknowledge the harm of sexual violence on this campus, and we need better systems in place to combat this.

We acknowledge the chancellor’s apology for the way in which the Advocacy Center was closed, but it should not have taken so much effort on our part to hear this. Further, it was an apology about “process,” not about the culture the decision has made and continues to uphold.

The fact of the matter is, we still do not have a safe space on this campus for survivors of sexual assault, or a place where a caring community of individuals can convene to work together towards prevention methods.

We have asked for the administration’s commitment to being a worldwide leader in addressing and ending sexual assault. At a time where universities across the nation are opening centers like the Advocacy Center, SU has closed ours. We have asked for the creation of a new standalone center for sexual assault and relationship violence services, advocacy, education, and outreach that combines the advantages of both old and new structures. This has not been met.

There has been no commitment to enact the recommendations of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Sexual Violence Prevention, Education and Advocacy, which will be necessary going forward. If the administration doesn’t treat that workgroup with as much honor and give it as much power as they give to some other workgroups, we will have a problem.

The administration has shown that it cannot be trusted to do the right thing for survivors of sexual assault. If the administration does not take the workgroup’s recommendations, we will be stuck with the current system.

The workgroup has heard from recent victims of sexual assault that the stated resources available are actually not available. We’ve heard students have not been able to meet with counselor elsewhere than the Counseling Center on Walnut Ave., or frat row. We’ve also heard accounts of there being a six-week wait to see a therapist.

In addition, there has also been no public announcement of a Yes Means Yes policy.

We are not done when it comes to bettering sexual assault services on this campus, and THE General Body will not end the sit in until we see a real commitment from the administration to do so.

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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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