Dear Students and Families: The first day of classes is now less than 40 days away. We are all excited by the prospect of a return to an academic and student experience that resembles our pre-pandemic campus environment. A critical…
August 2020: Progress on Campus Commitments
Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:
The campus community will be different this semester—in the way we gather on campus and in the precautions we must take for the safety of our community. Even with these changes we are committed to coming together in pursuit of our academic ideals and shared values of equity, accessibility and inclusion.
In these times, with all that has happened in our country over the past months involving traumatic examples of systemic racism and the resounding calls for social justice relative to the Black Lives Matter movement, our Campus Commitments are even more vital. Our #NotAgainSU students, along with international, Jewish and Indigenous students and the many campus community members who have made an impact in the areas of diversity and inclusion over the years, have helped lead the way to making necessary change. We will persevere with them.
The University has made significant progress over the summer on the Campus Commitments we made to our students. As we continue our work, below are the latest updates from the month of July. This progress is inclusive of the new commitments made in March. For previous updates, please visit the Campus Commitments to Diversity and Inclusion webpage.
- The Dean of Students Office is preparing the process to have students sign the Know Your Code, an acknowledgement of the Code of Student Conduct, and other University policies as the semester begins.
- SEM 100 will be delivered online this semester. The curriculum has been revised to focus on inclusion, equity and racism. To facilitate the efforts, 165 lead facilitators and more than 180 peer facilitators have been hired for the 165 sections. All facilitators are required to participate in two, three-hour online training sessions.
- The diversity, equity and inclusion student advisor positions in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) have been posted on Handshake. The paid student advisors will help to foster an inclusive environment, encourage campus engagement and facilitate thought-provoking discussions leading to multicultural awareness. Among other duties, they will advise on processes and issues regarding equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion; share perspectives and presentations with campus groups; seek feedback from students about their campus experiences; and identify opportunities for collaboration with student organizations and campus units.
- The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is seeking diversity fellows for the development and implementation of equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion initiatives. The fellows will provide related expertise and research to the office; explore new funding mechanisms for ODI; elevate the need for enhanced, proactive thought and action from faculty and staff regarding equity, diversity and inclusion; and advance key priorities as established by the chief diversity and inclusion officer.
- The Anti-Harassment Policy continues to be under review after feedback from the University Senate.
- C.A.R.E. Speaks will be offered to students in the Upperclass Multicultural Living Learning Community (UMLLC). Ongoing meetings are being held to secure faculty partners for the MLLCs.
- The recruiting process for an assistant director of diversity in the Office of Student Living (OSL) continues.
- The schedule, content and learning outcomes for the diversity, equity and inclusion training has been set for full-time and student OSL staff.
- A collaboration is underway with the Center for Disability Resources (CDR), formerly known as the Office of Disability Services, to develop a dedicated Exam Center that will more than double the University’s space for alternate testing facilities.
- In addressing the Physical Access Plan and accessibility improvements, a consensus was reached regarding implementing formal guidance to designers and creating design standards for all renovation and new construction. Analysis of the Physical Access Plan is complete for ranking prioritization factors related to existing barriers to access as documented by United Spinal consultants. A final report has been issued, and the Disability External Review Steering Committee chairs will provide recommendations to University leadership this fall.
- The printing service allowance has been increased from $20 to $40.
- Diversity factors have been included in the intra-University transfer decision process.
- The Food Services’ sous chef researched authentic international recipes, and a second round of sampling was held with students who remained on South Campus over the summer. Students provided feedback, and the dining centers’ fall menus were adjusted. Fourteen new Asian-inspired recipes were added to the Goldstein Student Center Dining menu. Food Services is sourcing halal meat, identifying halal recipes on menus and reviewing options to incorporate additional halal food options.
- For phase one of the installation of more security cameras, 140 of the 167 cameras have been installed.
- Hillel Executive Director Jillian Juni and Rabbi Joel Goldstein solicited Jewish students to review content of an additional interactive 90-minute anti-Semitism training session and finalized the content on July 20. The final training format and facilitator guide are expected this month. The pilot, scheduled for October, will be virtual. Leaders are working on outreach plans for the Residence Hall Association, resident advisors and Greek life, among others.
- In the University’s recommitment to prioritize students with disabilities in the housing process, a representative from the Housing Office met with the staff at the Office of Disability Services, now the Center for Disability Resources, weekly to review ADA housing needs. As part of the work and based on a committee’s recommendations, students who worked with ODS/CDR and had an approved accommodation on file were able to either participate in the online room selection process and selected a room that met their needs, or did not participate in the room selection process and were assigned a room by the Housing Office based on the recommendation on file.
Also, as part of our efforts, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the InterFaith Works El-Hindi Center for Dialogue are collaborating to bring the intergroup dialogues to our campus in a more expansive way. The dialogue process will develop students, faculty and staff to become leaders of diversity and inclusive excellence. The training process for facilitators has already begun, with many individuals who serve as diversity leads from the various schools and colleges among the most recent trainee class. In addition, diversity and inclusion colleagues on campus are continually providing workshops to enhance understanding on issues of diversity and equity. For example, the Newhouse School hosted virtual sessions this week for faculty and staff on unintentional bias and how to identify and reject such biases.
As many of us come back to campus or arrive for the first time, and for others who may be coming to campus virtually, please know that our priorities are clear and our commitment is strong. We seek equity and inclusion through our shared discussions and hard work and in our promise and hope for today and for the future.
Keith A. Alford
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer