A coalition of student activists at Syracuse University say the administration is trying to put an end to a sit-in protest and is refusing to address their concerns about alleged racist incidents that happened last year and made national headlines.
At least 30 students who formed a group called #NotAgainSU have been hunkered down since Monday at the school’s administration building, Crouse-Hinds Hall, with a list of demands they want administrators to tackle about incidents of “racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia,” according to The Associated Press.
The students demands have been met with promises of retribution by school leadership, who announced that all students participating in the sit-in protest are violating the school’s disruption policy and will receive interim suspensions.
“Though the university continues to support peaceful demonstration and the free and respectful exchange of ideas, university leaders are enforcing established policies that help maintain an environment that fosters sensitivity, understanding and respect for all 22,000 students in our community, as well as our faculty, staff and visitors,” a statement from John Liu, interim vice chancellor and provost, said.
The group, made of mostly Black students, argue that school officials have turned a blind eye to incidents of hate and racism, including one that occurred in Day Hall on Nov. 6, 2019, where the N-word and other racial slurs were written on mirrors of bathrooms on the fourth and sixth floors.
They also are demanding that Syracuse own up to a history of what they consider to be “white supremacy” and said it still exists.
On Tuesday, #NotAgainSU shared a statement on social media saying, “The administration has not appropriately addressed the 25+ hate crimes that have occurred on campus since November 2019, and they have not addressed student protesters in any way that is reflective of a commitment to equal safety and support.”
According to another statement, the university disagrees and says that some of the students are keeping them from having constructive conversations, saying the “continued unwillingness by some to engage constructively, along with changing demands, challenge our collective forward progress.”
The school contends they have tried to negotiate a change of venue to have students protest overnight at the library. The #NotAgainSU group says it defeats their purpose to protest at the Bird Library which is open 24 hours a day.
They also said officials have been unwilling to hear them out where their complaints are concerned.
“Change does not come to campus unless occupation like this happens,” the organizer said. “A protest is an active disruption. That’s intentional — we knew what we were doing.”
The protest has caught attention on social media with many people blasting the school administrators for being insensitive to the students’ needs.
Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud said in his winter address last month that $5.6 million has been earmarked for addressing issues of diversity and inclusion.
Currently there is a Change.org petition demanding that the 30 suspended students be reinstated. The student plan to stay at the sit-in until their needs are met and a GoFundMe has been set up to help them. Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud said in his winter address last month that $5.6 million has been earmarked for addressing issues of diversity and inclusion.