Keith Henderson joined the University in 2020 as chief compliance officer within the Office of University Counsel. In his role, Henderson oversees all of the University’s compliance efforts, including the governance structure, compliance with all state and federal laws and…
Deliberate, United and Good Faith Efforts Continue
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 and Inclusion that has already hosted 20 dialogue sessions with students, faculty and staff. An Independent Advisory Panel—consisting of nationally renowned experts on issues of safety, diversity and inclusion—was established and is on campus this week to engage with our community.
Real progress has been made and is continuing. The steps the University has taken and continues to take are being chronicled on Syracuse.edu/commitments and shared regularly via email, on social media, in small group dialogue sessions and by one-to-one conversations. This progress tackles some of the most pressing issues relative to climate, safety, curriculum, multicultural living, health and wellness, and anti-bias training.
Today, a group of our students began a peaceful demonstration in Crouse-Hinds Hall. For more than nine hours, several University leaders, the two of us included, worked to engage these students in a productive and respectful manner. However, a continued unwillingness by some to engage constructively, along with changing demands, challenge our collective forward progress.
That is exactly what happened this evening when student protesters were asked to leave the building when it closed. We informed our students they are welcome to demonstrate during the building’s hours of operation, which are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The student demonstrators were also invited to continue their protests overnight in Bird Library, which is open 24 hours, and then return to Crouse-Hinds Hall in the morning to continue their demonstration. They declined the invitation. The students who failed to comply with vacating the building once it closed for the evening have been referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities for violating the Campus Disruption Policy. To be clear: no students are being suspended for protesting.
Though we continue to support peaceful demonstration and the free and respectful exchange of ideas, at this time, we must enforce established policies that help maintain an environment that fosters sensitivity, understanding and respect for all 22,000 students in our community, as well as our faculty, staff and visitors.
Keith A. Alford
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
Vice President for the Student Experience