Statement from the Tenured Academic Leadership of the College of Visual and Performing Arts

The tenured academic leadership of the College of Visual and Performing Arts acknowledges the statement by the Chancellor to the Syracuse University community on Monday, February 24, addressing recent events in Crouse-Hinds Hall and directing urgent action.

We respectfully request that additional steps be taken to ensure that our shared commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as the safety and well-being of our students, is fulfilled.

  1. In response to the current protests, we request that the following steps be taken:
    1. Include students and faculty on all committees, advisory panels, and/or review panels (including the Board of Trustees Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity, and Inclusion and the Independent Advisory Panel) tasked with any examination of, or policy decisions in response to, the November and February protests. Students and faculty must be involved in the decision-making bodies that respond to the demands set forth by #NotAgainSU; the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) graduate student strike; the investigation of actions by the Department of Public Safety (DPS); and any other related activities.
    2. Allow vetting of the students and faculty chosen to serve on committees, advisory panels, and/or review panels by existing campus organizations and University entities that are independent of the administrators serving on these committees(e.g., organizers of #NotAgainSU, BIPOC, the Graduate Student Organization; and University Senate)
    3. Fully disclose to the campus community the terms of engagement for former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s review of DPS, including the scope and mandate of the review and the individuals or entities tasked with instituting any recommendations. Distribute the full final report to the campus community.
  2. To create the conditions under which free speech can be safely exercised, and to effectively address any future protests if they should arise, we request the following:
    1. Allow for meaningful student participation in the development of protocols for responding to protests and in the active response to any given protest.
    2. Allow for meaningful participation by department chairs, school directors, and staff leadership in the process of developing conflict resolution protocols.
    3. Promote existing mediation training for deans, associate deans, assistant deans, department chairs, school directors, and staff leadership.
    4. Amend the Campus Disruption Policy to allow for peaceful protests that are organized by any and/or all members of the University community and which call for specific actions in response to clearly articulated demands.
  3. To establish trust and to demonstrate commitment to removing some of the root causes of the current protests, we request the following:
    1. Engage in transparent communication that clearly states the actions taken and those responsible/accountable for those actions. University Communications’ consistent dissemination of misinformation is a key contributor to distrust of the administration. We offer the following example of the kind of transparent communication we are requesting. The University originally stated: “No suspensions were issued for protesting.” It would have been a more truthful and clearer statement to say, “Interim suspensions were issued for violations of the Campus Disruption Policy, which in turn were the direct result of student protests.”
    2. Provide annual central University fiscal support to incentivize school/college initiatives aimed at preparation, recruitment, and retention of underrepresented communities at all levels. Current budget allocations are grossly uneven across schools/colleges.