For more than six-days- straight, students at Syracuse University have been leading a sit-in to put an end to on-campus racism. The students want two things: the expulsion of anyone involved in racist and for more counselors to represent marginalized groups. The administration finally signed off on the group’s demands – but it made three amendments.
#NotAgainSU is the new hashtag behind a group of students’ movement to stop the string of racist acts at the institution. Over 100 students have been performing a sit-in protest in the SU’s new Barnes Center while doing their regular daily activities like eating, doing homework, and sometimes spending the night. However, as the sit-in continued, staff and courses like ballet came to the students during their protests so they wouldn’t miss class. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This protest all comes after the university’s poor response to several racist incidents on campus, which the students say shows the negligence and lack of care the school has for its students of color. The students who occupy the Barnes Center at The Arch describe themselves as a “black-led student movement” that’s “faceless.” The protesters are not sharing their identity with the public, so no one is seen as a spokesperson and so that they don’t risk someone being targeted by students who oppose the movement.
The string of racist incidents includes graffiti of a swastika found at Haven Hall that has since been removed. In another incident, a student at Sadler Hall said that another student was yelling “a racial epithet that is derogatory to African Americans.” Meanwhile, three separate incidents of racist graffiti about Black people and Asians have been reported since November 7.
In a brief interview with Baller Alert, a student, who asked to remain anonymous, opened up about her experience on campus amid the racist incidents.
“It’s been pretty scare,” the student said, after revealing that she skipped class out of fear of being targeted. “There are alot of rumors flying around about threats made to students, and it’s causing hysteria. It’s really hard to determine what is legitimate threat and what isn’t. I think some people are taking advantage of the fear and anxiety of the past few weeks to try and scare students of color even more.”
The protestors wanted university officials to commit to 19 short- and long-term changes to how they handle racial incidents. Those include requiring faculty and staff to undergo diversity training, establishing a housing portal where students can pick roommates based on mutual interests and identities, and allocating $1 million for a curriculum “that educates the campus on diversity issues, specifically anti-racism.” They also want the culture on the campus to be changed, so all students are aware of racism in everyday settings.
But, it looks like the students’ work has paid off. Thursday morning, Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud finally signed the students’ list of demands with the exception of three edits. Syverud described the revisions he made as “required to comply with law or because of the need for Board of Trustees approval.” According to Syracuse.com, Syverud’s revision includes a note that the status of tenured professors’ training in diversity can only be publicly shared “up to the extent of the law.” He adds a commitment to make diversity training a requirement for tenure.
In addition, an arrest has been made in connection to multiple incidents of graffiti on the campus. Kym McGowan, 18 of Syracuse, was arrested and charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and making graffiti, both misdemeanors. McGowan is a freshman in the engineering and computer science program at SU, according to the campus directory. However, according to Syracuse police, McGowan’s graffiti appears to be in support of campus protests against a series of racist incidents.