Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community: Over the last several months, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, administrators and trustees have engaged in constructive, collaborative and respectful dialogue. The Board of Trustees created a Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity…
Message from Keith A. Alford: Camaraderie Over Hate
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
Early Saturday morning, two African American students reported being subjected to racist vitriol while walking on the side of a road. While we have no way of knowing who launched these verbal attacks or if they were a member of our community, let me be clear: Syracuse University condemns racism fervently and unequivocally. I ask that you join me in this resolve to reject all forms of bias and oppression.
These kinds of hateful incidents are occurring far too often in our society. On Saturday night, for example, our neighbor on “The Hill”—SUNY-ESF—reported the discovery of racist graffiti in a campus building, Centennial Hall. In that case, witnesses stepped forward to help SUNY-ESF’s University Police apprehend the individual responsible. I applaud the witnesses for speaking up. They remind us we all must do our part to reject hate and hold individuals who perpetrate hate in our communities accountable. I remind you that as Vice President for the Student Experience Rob Hradsky recently announced, any student who commits bias-related incidents will face immediate suspension. While I hope this move discourages this appalling behavior, I am disappointed these hateful acts have continued on our campus in recent weeks.
Both of these incidents underscore the need for us to continue our collective stance of sending a strong and unmistakable message that this behavior is unwelcome here. We must keep doing the hard work of advancing our shared values and ideals. Part of that work is happening this week on campus as members of the Board of Trustees Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity and Inclusion meet with students, faculty and staff from across our community. Special committee members will host listening and dialogue sessions to learn about campus experiences, to better understand current concerns and recommend real solutions. This will be the first in a series of engagements. The special committee will work with my office and the Independent Advisory Panel to identify and engage with campus community members between now and the completion of their final report in June.
Also happening this week, many of the nine Campus Engagement Committees, created to help advance the commitments made in the fall, are convening to continue their work. Members of the committees are providing input, constructive feedback and insight to help accelerate the implementation of the commitments. I am grateful to the nearly 550 students, faculty and staff who raised their hands to sit on these committees. Your involvement is needed and critical to moving us forward. Thank you!
In our shared work, we must continue to listen to and care for each other within our campus community. As I have said before, our commonalities will connect us as we constructively work through challenges that confront us.
Embracing our connectivity,
Keith A. Alford
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer