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…
September 2020: Progress on Campus Commitments
Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:
This semester we are here together on campus as a result of our shared commitment to each other. Safeguarding the health and well-being of those around us has allowed us to keep our campus open. This spirit of working toward a common goal is how we can achieve greater inclusiveness and deeper understanding of our differences and commonalities.
Many of our campus community members are engaged in this hard work of reaching the next level of equity and inclusion for our campus. This has been apparent most recently through action on several initiatives:
- The Disability External Review Committee presented its Phase One recommendations to Chancellor Kent Syverud, who fully endorsed all of them earlier this month.
- The Campus Climate Pulse Survey was launched 22 through the work of Damon Williams, a member of the Independent Advisory Panel, and as part of the work with the Board of Trustees Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity and Inclusion.
- On Sept. 18, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who is conducting a review of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), announced a proposed framework for the University’s Public Safety Community Review Board.
In addition, in response to our #NotAgainSU students, international students, Jewish students and Indigenous students, we continue to listen and make progress on our commitments. Below is a list of recent progress to the Campus Commitments through Aug. 31:
- The revised Student Code of Conduct was issued and students signed it, acknowledging the code as they returned to campus in August.
- Due to some students changing their fall attendance plans this year, there were changes in the number of students enrolled in the Multicultural Living Learning Communities (MLLCs) compared to numbers reported earlier this summer. At the end of August, the following students are living as a part of the MLLCs: 17 first-year students living in the Day Hall MLLC, 14 first-year students living in the Lawrinson Hall MLLC and 43 upperclass students living in the Ernie Davis Hall MLLC.
- The University has 32 clinical positions in the Barnes Center in the fiscal year 2021 budget; there are 27 staff members hired or offers accepted, and recruitment continues for the vacancies. Since last spring, counseling staff members have attended over 80 training sessions.
- After other departments return to the Schine Student Center following renovations, Fraternity and Sorority Affairs will be reallocated additional space in the Women’s Building to support all six councils.
- Community organizations in the City of Syracuse and nonprofit organizations have been surveyed to establish current active volunteer capacity under COVID-19 restrictions.
- DPS and the Student Association will host a series of student focus groups regarding DPS. Students will be invited to share their feedback on the department and recommend changes to enhance their experience with DPS staff. The focus groups will be facilitated by InterFaith Works Central New York, a local nonprofit, via Zoom.
- A Student Activism Engagement Team has been created, composed of faculty, academic leaders, student support leaders and students, to navigate challenges presented by demonstrations and protests.
- The installation of an additional 11 neighborhood cameras was completed.
- Additional recruitment efforts for a more diverse group of resident advisors (RAs) for the Fall 2020 class included working with the Center for International Services on specific emails geared toward international students; working with the Office of Student Activities to send emails to its student organization listserv, specifically targeting organizations focused around multilingual students or with a foundation in diversity, inclusion, social justice or identity-based organizations; providing information to all cultural centers to share with their student listservs; and discussing student belonging and identities and inclusion in the group interview process.
- Facilitators have been identified for anti-Semitism training, with a pilot presentation scheduled for Oct. 21. Twenty-five students will be identified to participate in the pilot session.
- To address one of the Jewish students’ concerns, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) has formed the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Coalition, a student committee that will engage students with marginalized identities, understand their strengths and struggles, and formulate action-oriented plans.
Along with the commitments to students, the ODI has hired seven student worker advisors to hold positions that would enhance our campus climate. The office has also engaged the campus in conversations, including hosting three sessions with students, faculty and staff to discuss the grand jury decision regarding the killing of Breonna Taylor.
In their efforts to provide diversity, equity and inclusion training, ODI staff members have led 15 trainings this semester. In partnership with InterFaith Works, ODI has enhanced the dialogue on race and ethnicity experience, including facilitator training and dialogue circle implementation. The office conducted a dialogue on race and ethnicity facilitator training for the Inclusive Leadership Assembly (ILA) and other campus constituents. Seven members of the ILA were trained. Dialogue circles will be implemented in the Falk College, School of Architecture and Whitman School between October and January. A series of dialogue sessions for supervisors that began this summer in the wake of the death of George Floyd will continue this fall with “In the Moment—Bridging the Gaps of Race Dialogue,” sponsored by ODI in collaboration with the Office of Human Resources.
I invite every member of our campus to engage in such events as the annual celebration of Latinx Hispanic Heritage Month, observed through Oct. 15, and the LGBTQ+ History Month celebration in October, as well as other equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion events on campus. We will all be better for it.
Keith A. Alford
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer