Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud has responded to a list of demands from a student sit-in that has been going on for a week, over racist incidents that have occurred recently on campus. In the past two weeks, SU has been rocked by at least 10 incidents including racist graffiti, yelling racial slurs and hateful emails.
In his response to students, Syverud agrees with most of the students’ demands, which includes $1 million towards anti-racism curriculum, clarity in the Code of Student Conduct, and notification of racially-motivated incidents within 48 hours. (See the university's full response below)
Sophomore Caleb Sheedy has been helping with the student sit-in. Sheedy said some of Syverud’s answers are vague and he’s concerned.
“If this is the response he’s going to stand by, students are not going to be happy with this," Sheedy said. "Lack of communication has been a big issue with this entire movement as a whole. And it’s going to get in the way with solving these issues in a peaceful manner where we can all just calmly agree with a solution.”
Sheedy said it was heartbreaking to see the fear in student’s eyes Monday night. That’s when one of the latest incidents, a white supremacist manifesto from the New Zealand mass shooting earlier this year, was reportedly posted online and sent to several phones at the SU library.
“Everyone’s just scared and a little nervous as to what’s going to happen,” Sheedy said.
The Syracuse Police Department has taken the lead in launching criminal investigations into that incident and another involving a swastika drawn in snow. They’re working with state police, the FBI and SU’s public safety. Syracuse Police Chief Kent Buckner said he understands students are concerned.
“As the investigation continues, we have two primary purposes," Buckner said. "The first is we want to try to find the individual that released that manifesto that put that online. We also want to make sure that there are no viable, credible threats against the university or anywhere in our city.”
Buckner said they do not believe the other incidents are connected to the manifesto.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on the university’s board of trustees to bring in an outside monitor to investigate the incidents, saying he does not believe Chancellor Syverud has handled the matter “in a way that instills confidence.”
Syverud is expected to meet with students at an open forum Wednesday evening.