Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families: Late yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified Onondaga County as a region of substantial transmission due to an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases. In response, a short time…
New Action Taken to Address Campus Commitments
Our new academic semester is well underway. Students, faculty and staff have asked about the status of the campus commitments we made last semester. Today’s update includes highlights that Chancellor Kent Syverud shared during his Winter Message on Jan. 13, as well as other important actions we have taken to address concerns expressed by our community.
- More than 110 students, representing a broad array of student groups and organizations, volunteered to serve on the Campus Engagement Committees. Nearly 300 faculty and staff have also signed up. The deadline for signing up has been extended to Tuesday, Jan. 28, for others who may be interested in participating on one of the committees. These committees will provide critical input to support the success of these important initiatives.
- Interim steps have been taken to address space issues for multicultural students, including the recently opened space in 550 Bird Library, which will be used as a study lounge and a meeting and convening space.
- We are working with our Native American students to address on-campus space and the formation of a broad committee to determine the format and location for permanent recognition of the University’s presence on ancestral Onondaga lands. We expect to have more on our commitments to our Native American students in our February update.
- Concrete action has been taken to ensure the dignity and security of Jewish students, including working to complete a security assessment of Hillel and to review that assessment with Hillel’s leadership. Additionally, the Academic Affairs team is working with students and faculty to improve the interface for requesting academic accommodations for religious observance.
- A new Diversity Opportunity Hires initiative will build on current faculty diversity efforts by increasing funding aimed at competitive recruitment of faculty from underrepresented minority groups.
- A Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity and Inclusion has been formed by the Board of Trustees to assess and provide recommendations regarding programs, policies and initiatives designed to foster and strengthen diversity and inclusion at Syracuse University. The committee will be doing this work in consultation with a recently established Independent Advisory Panel, composed of national and international experts on diversity and inclusion and on safety. More details on engaging with the committee and panel will be shared soon.
- The University has allocated an additional $5.6 million for diversity and inclusion initiatives to address the commitments made by the University, with 16 new staff members added to work on new and improved diversity programming.
- The University has allocated $400,000 to expand resources at the Center for International Services, including the Intercultural Conversations Project.
- A contract with a roommate-matching software company has been finalized to implement a housing portal for the Fall 2020 semester first-year roommate selection process that allows students to connect based on matching criteria, such as mutual interests and schedule compatibility.
- The Office of Learning Communities gathered student input on the expansion of the Multicultural Living Learning Community.
- Security cameras were installed in public spaces in Day Hall. Administrators are working with residence hall staff and student leaders to determine how to install additional cameras while balancing the interests of security and resident privacy. A phased approach to campuswide residence hall installations had been developed, and funding is being identified.
- In the fall, the University committed to hiring 84 residential community service officers and 12 supervisors to provide 24/7 staffing in our residence halls. To date, we have hired all of the 12 supervisors and 74 of the 84 officers. Half of the supervisory positions and 57 percent of the officer positions have been filled with people who identify as part of an underrepresented group.
- Career Services is working with the Office of Community Engagement to add volunteer opportunities to the Handshake career management tool.
- We have added additional funding for the Shaw Center for Community Engagement and Hendricks Chapel to enhance volunteer opportunities in the months ahead.
- We have doubled funding for internships for undergraduates with financial need ($500,000 for summer 2020 and then $1 million for summer 2021).
In addition to the aforementioned updates, we’re pleased to share with you the following progress:
- Four additional staff therapist positions have been approved and posted for the Barnes Center at The Arch; interviews for these positions are underway.
- Funding has been allocated to double the capacity for the Students of Color Leadership Retreat and to create an International Students Leadership Retreat.
- A diversity, equity and inclusion online module, available through EVERFI, has been added to the suite of online training modules that incoming students are required to complete.
- Based both on feedback from the students who have taken SEM 100 and on suggestions made by student groups last fall, we are working to improve the first-year seminar program in the short and long term.
- In the short term, we have engaged School of Education Professor Jeff Mangram and student volunteers in the development of a more intentional curriculum for SEM 100 that focuses on race, power and privilege.
- In parallel, one Senate ad hoc committee—charged with developing a new, credit-bearing first-year seminar course to begin in fall 2021—has been working to incorporate insights and suggestions that arose in recent months. Another ad hoc committee is working on a proposal for a required three-credit elective in inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility, and is gathering syllabi for courses that could possibly satisfy such a requirement.
These newest actions build on a strong foundation of work that has been achieved over the past many months, thanks to the dedication of and advocacy by countless students, faculty and staff. We will continue to provide monthly updates via email, as well as provide regular updates on the Campus Commitments to Diversity and Inclusion website, which was refreshed earlier today.