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‘Baring the Soul’ forum, questionnaire welcome input on ways Syracuse University can improve
‘Baring the Soul’ forum, questionnaire welcome input on ways Syracuse University can improveMarch 15, 2005Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
Throughout inaugural year of Chancellor Nancy Cantor, there has been a huge response by the Syracuse University community in developing and hosting events, dialogue, activity and programs as part of “Exploring the Soul of Syracuse.” Until now, these developments have not included an essential examination of the University’s historical and ongoing imperfections.
In response to this, and to help bring to the forefront the issues that have negatively affected the University-racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and other discriminatory actions that have occurred over the years-the Inaugural Year Committee will present an open forum, titled “Baring the Soul of Syracuse,” March 28 from 3:30-5 p.m., in Hendricks Chapel. The forum is open to the University community. Chancellor Cantor will attend and will make brief remarks at the forum’s conclusion.
At the forum, University faculty, staff and students will be asked to share instances in which they believe the University did not meet its responsibility to its mission of fostering academic, professional and personal growth. The forum also will be an opportunity for the community to make constructive suggestions for improved institutional policymaking regarding the issues that are raised.
The forum discussion will be organized by themes based on the responses to a questionnaire, currently offered online at http://cstl.syr.edu/soulofsyracuse/bare_soul.asp. A paper-based version is available at Hendricks Chapel and at the information kiosk in the Schine Student Center.
Responses can be submitted through the Web site or by sending the completed questionnaire to Hendricks Chapel. All feedback is anonymous, unless questionnaire participants choose to share their names. All responses are due by Friday, March 25, but individuals do not have to complete the questionnaire to participate in the forum.
In a comprehensive follow-up, Cantor will share her insights from the open forum and her reading of the University’s commitment to address the issues that are raised, in a written statement before the end of the Spring 2005 semester. She will also provide details of the University’s response in a public address at the beginning of the Fall 2005 semester.
Citing possible topics for discussion, Baring the Soul subcommittee members point to such past and present practices as limiting enrollment of Jewish students in the early part of the 20th century; requiring a black basketball player to identify himself as Hindu in order to play; publishing racist cartoon depictions of people of color in the student newspaper; faculty and counselors advising women to pursue careers in predominantly female fields, rather than in accounting, engineering or other areas perceived to be male domains; and devaluing the work of faculty and staff of diverse backgrounds. These are only a few examples of individual and institutional acts of exclusion, hostility and bias against particular members of the University community over the years.
“Because such examples are not limited to the past, and because many sectors of the University community can cite instances of poor treatment in the workplace and learning environment, we encourage all members of the University community to participate in Baring the Soul of Syracuse,” says Paula Johnson, chair of the Baring the Soul subcommittee and professor in the College of Law. “We’re seeking input that will help create and sustain a community that treats all members with fairness, dignity and respect.”
Other members of this subcommittee and organizers of the program are Alejandro Garcia, professor of social work in the College of Human Services and Health Professions; Patricia Lowney, director of Sponsored Programs; Martha Hanson, preservation administrator in E.S. Bird Library; Helen Murray, director of the SU Internship Program; Eric Holzwarth, deputy director of the University Honors Program; and the Rev. Thomas V. Wolfe, dean of Hendricks Chapel.
For more information, call (315) 443-3364.