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Addressing Graduate Teaching Assistants’ Concerns
Dear Graduate Assistants, Fellows and Faculty:
We write to provide clarity regarding concerns expressed by some of our graduate teaching assistants. We recognize this is a difficult time for our community. We acknowledge and applaud the support you provide to our students every day, inside and outside the classroom.
We want to provide details about the specific actions taken by the University, or that will be taken in coming days, to address the following concerns brought forward in the petition by a group of graduate teaching assistants.
1) All #NotAgainSU demands are adequately addressed and met in full by Syracuse University administration. Demands are available here: https://tinyurl.com/tgv3awl
The University is working in good faith to meet the commitments made to our students in November, as well as to address new concerns raised, in consultation with members of the campus community. We look forward to continuing our work with students, graduate teaching assistants and faculty to create an action plan for engaging on each of these issues.
2) Students in Crouse-Hinds Hall are given unrestricted and unconditional access to food, medication, healthcare, hygiene products, clothing, and legal and spiritual advisors by allowing the building to remain open from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm every day.
Agreed. The building’s weekend hours have been adjusted to reflect these operating times.
3) All #NotAgainSU and other student activists who have been issued suspension notices will have them expunged from their record and all confirmation issued in writing on formal Syracuse University letterhead.
Agreed, all interim suspensions were revoked. Further, all student conduct proceedings, which did not progress beyond interim suspension, have been terminated. Confirmation letters were issued on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. No records of the interim suspensions or the brief conduct process will appear in any student transcripts. Because student conduct proceedings were terminated, they never reached the point that could lead to a permanent student record, and there are no final determinations to expunge. Nevertheless, to address the call for expungement, the University will manually review all student records to ensure that no indications of the brief proceedings exist in any form in any other student files, academic or otherwise. No record of the interim suspensions or conduct process will ever be reflected in student records, academic or otherwise.
4) No new suspensions will be given to students participating in the #NotAgainSU demonstration, both inside and outside of Crouse-Hinds Hall.
Agreed, no new suspensions will be issued to students participating in the #NotAgainSU demonstration, both inside and outside of Crouse-Hinds Hall.
5) Students issued suspension notices who were NOT present at the Crouse-Hinds Hall sit-in will have them expunged from their record. Additionally, formal, public apologies will be issued to these students who experienced the trauma of anti-Black and misogynoir racial profiling.
Agreed, no suspensions will appear in student records for students who received suspension notices and were not present at Crouse-Hinds Hall. In addition, affected students received formal written apologies, and Chancellor Syverud provided a public apology to the entire Syracuse University Community earlier today. We recognize students were hurt and concerned, and we join the Chancellor in apologizing.
6) Students will not be expected to sign anything in this process related to items #1 through #3.
7) The university explicitly names the strategies used that led to the racial profiling of its students, which is in line with the call for administrative transparency and accountability.
Identifications were made through personal knowledge of individuals participating in the Crouse-Hinds Hall protests and through review of student identification, in comparison with photos from cameras in Crouse-Hinds Hall. We acknowledge that this approach was flawed.
In addition, we anticipate further University communication in the coming days on action steps related to the external reviews announced by the Chancellor this morning.
There are numerous opportunities for graduate students, undergraduates, faculty and staff to express support for the issues raised by our students, provide critical perspective, and support our common goal—a university where every individual is welcomed, valued and respected. At the same time, we hope that support for student protesters can be expressed through positive action that is compatible with our mission as educators. Undergraduate students should not miss class sessions or important curricula, experience delayed grades or be otherwise impacted through actions meant to express support for student protesters and their aims.
Faculty and graduate assistants and fellows are invited to meetings TODAY (Monday, Feb. 24) to discuss concerns and provide answers to questions. An all-faculty forum will be held from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. Graduate assistants and fellows are invited to a meeting from 5 to 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held in Gifford Auditorium (Huntington Beard Crouse Hall).
We welcome your input and invite you to reach out to us with feedback or thoughts about actions we can take to support the University’s broad efforts on diversity and inclusion and swiftly address the promises we made to students last fall.
Dean, Graduate School