Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families: The start of the spring semester is quickly approaching, and many in our community are working diligently to prepare for the return of our students and to safely resume in-person teaching and learning. We…
May 2020: Progress on Campus Commitments
Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:
Our academic year has come to a close. I applaud all our graduates on their achievements. They have worked hard, accomplished much, persevered and excelled even in the midst of a health pandemic.
COVID-19 has impacted each of us in different ways. We have heard from many in our campus community who have been adversely impacted over these last few months. Even during these difficult times, we are working diligently to provide the support and resources necessary to ensure an equitable, welcoming and diverse community. We are striving to enact lasting change and are making important steps toward our goals and commitments. We continue to raise awareness and engage in conversations around our communal work.
For example, in April, the University hosted writer, professor and television personality Melissa Harris-Perry in a virtual presentation to the campus community. Harris-Perry, the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, shared her reflections on equity, especially during this challenging time. She underscored the need for extra consideration during this time of crisis, encouraging us to think of the impact our decisions will have on all groups. Sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Community Engagement, her presentation drew 254 participants, who asked many insightful questions. This event showed how there is a considerable longing for greater understanding and shared community around issues of equity.
As we continue to make strides in our progress, please track the work that has been done on our previous commitments—and the new commitments that have been added—at Syracuse.edu/commitments. Here are some recent updates from April I’d like to share with you.
- After several meetings of the student, faculty and staff policies campus engagement committee and subcommittees between February and April, final drafts of the code of conduct and anti-harassment policy were circulated to committee members for review. Feedback from the Crouse-Hinds Hall student protestors was incorporated into the draft document. The draft of the anti-harassment policy was shared with the chairs of the Free Speech Working Group.
- For the Fall 2020 semester, the Office of Learning Communities will offer learning communities for first-year students in Day and Lawrinson halls and a new Multicultural Living Learning Community (MLLC) for sophomores, juniors and seniors in Ernie Davis Hall. The office has also expanded the Indigenous Living Learning Community (LLC), International LLC and the LGBTQ+ LLC. The University commits to better advertising these learning communities to incoming and current students. Based on student interest, new learning communities or identity-based housing communities will be added to as many residence halls as possible.
- Lisa Dolak, senior vice president and university secretary to the Board of Trustees, hosted a virtual session on the role of the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, April 28. The presentation focused on the Board of Trustees role, the ways in which the Board provides oversight to the administration, and student, faculty and staff representation on the Board.
- Alternative retreat and training formats for the Office of Student Living are being assessed given social distancing guidelines. Feedback from Crouse-Hinds Hall student protestors in March was incorporated into plans.
- A consensus was reached about completing and putting in place formal accessibility guidance to designers and creating design standards for all renovations and new construction. The process is underway for ranking multiple priorities in analyzing existing barriers to access.
- The University is allocating $600,000 for volunteer programming in the City of Syracuse. Hendricks Chapel, the Office of Community Engagement and the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience are planning a virtual session on community engagement in the greater Syracuse area.
- The Department of Public Safety (DPS) posted its code of ethical conduct to its website. The University is reviewing whether other DPS Standard Operating Procedures can be posted to the website without compromising sensitive information.
- The University will increase and improve communication to all students regarding disability services and housing. The Disability Review Committee will also examine current practices.
- We are establishing paid student positions in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. One responsibility of these advisory positions would include contributing to proactive improvements of matters associated with our campus climate. More information about how to apply is forthcoming.
- The SEM 100 curriculum will be expanded to include the history of protest at Syracuse University, provided University Senate approves this change to the curriculum.
As we persist and endure through the uncertainty of this pandemic, always know the University remains committed to providing the best learning and working experience for our students, faculty and staff. Please stay safe and healthy as you care for yourself and your loved ones.
Keith A. Alford
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer