Hate crimes go unchecked at Syracuse University, students say

2020-02-19 15:02:29

A student activist group that took over a Syracuse University administration building to protest long-simmering charges of racism and bias on campus rejected an attempt by the school to end its three-day sit-in, the school said in a statement Wednesday.

The black-led movement #NotAgainSU launched the sit-in at Crouse-Hinds Hall with more than 20 students Monday to protest the administration’s handling of racial incidents at the university. They charged that the school failed to address issues of racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and white supremacy that prompted #NotAgainSU’s initial protests in November.

The university’s Department of Public Safety sealed off the building and hasn’t allowed in food or medicine since Tuesday, according to The Daily Orange, the university’s independent newspaper.

The university said it employed normal security measures for the building, including screening of packages, and has not prevented anyone from leaving.

Protesters called for the punishment of students involved in alleged bias incidents, the creation of more diversity initiatives and the resignation of administrators for their response to the incidents. They singled out Chancellor Kent Syverud, Department of Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado, DPS Associate Chief John Sardino and Dolan Evanovich, senior vice president for enrollment and student experience.

The student group, camped out in the lobby of the building, vowed “escalated action” if the administrators don’t step down by Friday.

Background: Syracuse tightens security after white supremacist manifesto; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo rips chancellor

Robert Hradsky, vice president for the Student Experience, said Wednesday that the protesters turned down offers of a compromise aimed at finding “common ground” to end the takeover of the admissions and administration building.

The university’s proposal included allowing protesters to move to another building and to reinstate more than 30 protest organizers who were suspended. 

Hours before the breakdown in talks, #NotAgainSU issued a statement: “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.”

Since the spring semester began in January, there have been six reported bias incidents, according to the university’s Department of Public Safety, The Daily Orange reported.

The most recent incidents involved a driver allegedly shouting a racial slur out of a vehicle toward two students in February and alleged verbal harassment and racist graffiti directed toward black and Jewish students.

The list notes 26 incidents dating to Nov. 7, 2019, including reports of racist graffiti against Asian people, a swastika posted in a student dorm and a post-it note with anti-Native American language found in another campus building.

In November, a white supremacist manifesto was posted on a campus forum and to some students’ cellphones at the school library. In another incident, the university suspended a fraternity and halted social activities at all of the school’s fraternities for the rest of the semester after a series of racist and anti-Semitic incidents.

 That month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement saying, “These types of hateful and bigoted actions seek to splinter and segregate our communities, and they have no place in New York – period.” Cuomo said the incidents “have not been handled in a manner that reflects this state’s aggressive opposition to such odious, reckless, reprehensible behavior.”

The university said it has taken steps to address student concerns, including mandated diversity training; increased use of cameras and security; a revised student code to address hate speech issues; and enhanced financial aid for outstanding international students.

Contributing: John Bacon

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Syracuse protest: Student group NotagainSU stages sit-in over racism

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