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Syracuse University Establishes Team to Support and Engage Student Activists
Recognizing the important role student activism plays in bettering the campus community, Syracuse University has established the Student Activism Engagement Team (SAET) made up of academic leaders, student experience staff, faculty and student leadership to support and engage student activism.
The team, appointed by Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost John Liu and Amanda Nicholson, interim deputy senior vice president for enrollment and the student experience, with input from the deans of the schools and colleges, is charged with supporting and facilitating student activism, including protests and demonstration and engaging with students to empower the free expression of ideas. SAET will provide guidance to ensure that activism remains safe and healthy, particularly in light of public health guidelines in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are experiencing a truly unique time in our nation,” says College of Engineering and Computer Science Dean J. Cole Smith, a member of the team. “Protest can lead to change that is urgently needed, and the strong voices we have heard are critical to identifying where inequity exists and examining our own roles in addressing it.”
He adds that the team will fundamentally change the way that Syracuse University engages with student activists, bringing together individuals from around the University who interact with students on a regular basis. The team will facilitate protest while helping students ensure that their actions remain within their responsibilities to the community.
“Our work will be to empower students, engage with people who want to effect change, and connect students who have ideas, concerns and requests for change with decision makers,” Smith says.
Student participation is a critical part of the team’s approach, according to Student Association President Justine Hastings ’21: “I appreciate that the Student Association has a seat at the table and will work alongside faculty, staff and administrators to help student activists connect with decision makers to find common paths forward that successfully address underlying issues.”
Meredith Davis, associate vice president for student engagement, believes that Syracuse University students can be empowered voices for change, while also taking care of each other and the community. “We are hearing renewed calls for justice and an end to hate in communities across the country,” Davis says. “This team recognizes the value of campus activism and its potential to deliver a transformative learning experience, helping students, faculty, staff and leadership to better understand and advance our approaches to fostering a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible campus and society.”
SAET members for 2020-21 are:
- Jorge Castillo, director, LGBTQ Resource Center
- Meredith Davis, associate vice president for student engagement
- Marcelle Haddix, Dean’s Professor, chair of reading and language arts and chair of the University Senate Agenda Committee (ex-officio)
- Justine Hastings ’21, president of the Student Association (ex-officio)
- Jeffrey Mangram, associate professor of education
- Diane Murphy, professor and dean of the Falk College
- Brice Nordquist, associate professor and Dean’s Professor of Community Engagement in writing studies, rhetoric and composition
- Christabel Sheldon, director of the McNair Scholars Program
- Cole Smith, professor and dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science
- Peter Vanable, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School