Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff: Recently the Onondaga County Health Department has reported a notable decline in new COVID infections and hospitalizations across the Central New York region. This positive trend, combined with significantly reduced population density on our…
February 2021: Progress on Campus Commitments
Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:
With the start of the new semester, this is a busy time for discovery, reflection and action on matters of equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion as we come back together as a University community.
First, please join in the many events of the University’s Racial Equity Academic Symposium from Feb. 22-27. Presented by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Division of Faculty Affairs in the Office of Academic Affairs—with co-sponsors from across campus—the virtual symposium promotes intellectual discourse and scholarship in the areas of race and equity as part of the University’s Black History Month activities. This is very necessary as we engage each other in important discussions on racial injustice in our society.
The new semester also brings us together in the familiar but transformed Schine Student Center. Accessibility has been enhanced throughout the Schine—including a fully accessible path through the building from Waverly Avenue to the Einhorn Walk, among many other upgrades. The Schine is now also home to the new Intercultural Collective, where the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Disability Cultural Center and the LGBTQ Resource Center share a connected space, allowing for deeper conversations and collaborations around the many intersections of identities. It is a truly welcoming experience.
Along with our initiatives across campus to engage as a community, we continue to address the concerns of our #NotAgainSU students, international students, Jewish students and Indigenous students. Please find our recent updates below to our Campus Commitments:
- The new assistant director of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Office of Student Living began their new role Feb. 1.
- There are 30 of 32 clinical counseling staff positions filled in the Barnes Center at The Arch, including the five new positions committed to by the University. The associate director of diversity and inclusion began in January. Of the remaining two replacement positions, one is being allocated to add a native healer to the clinical staff in fulfillment of the Indigenous student concerns.
- Anti-Semitism training dates for student groups (including Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, Athletics, Barnes Center at The Arch and registered student organizations) were set for Feb. 18 and March 2. A strategy is being planned to increase the number of facilitators in advance of fall 2021 full implementation.
- The learning community application process for fall 2021 will launch this spring.
- Two academic consultants have been hired to design and implement the Native Student Program (NSP) mentoring experience during the spring semester. The mentoring program has been named Ionkerihonnién:ni (yion gali hoon ya ni) Guide Program, as suggested by NSP alumnus Nicole Smoke ’17, who established the program as part of her senior thesis. Smoke, a member of the Mohawk Nation, confirmed the name with her elders. The name translates to “they teach me” and reinforces the idea that the students will not only be learners but also teachers. The program will provide Indigenous students with a space to live their culture and promote community building by encouraging cultural expression and exploration of their values and identity. The targeted group will be first-year Haudenosaunee Promise scholars and non-Haudenosaunee Promise students in the Indigenous Living Learning Community.
- The Office of Financial Aid held a session about financial aid for the Native Student Program in December.
- An Indigenous-identifying counselor has been hired in the Barnes Center, and the University will prioritize the recruitment of staff with diverse identities when vacancies occur on the counseling staff. Future recruitment efforts will be targeted to Indigenous nations/tribal communities, including an Indigenous healer.
- The Office of Financial Aid has begun a background review of establishing graduate scholarships for Indigenous students.
Beyond the Campus Commitments, schools and colleges and units across campus are enhancing diversity and inclusion through their own initiatives. Below are some of the many efforts:
- In the College of Law, the Curriculum Committee and the Committee on Inclusion Initiatives have been charged with recommending curricular requirements at the college to address race and ethnicity, cultural competency and implicit bias toward students’ professional development.
- Information Literacy Scholar Brie Baumert, under the supervision of Information Literacy Librarian Kelly Delevan, created a library guide for the spring 2021 SEM 100 First-Year Seminar. The guide support students in SEM 100 by connecting them to library resources relevant to the course content, including cultural competency, intersectionality, privilege, oppressions and microaggressions, and anti-racism.
- Syracuse Abroad campus outreach continues to reach out to offices on campus to foster mutual understanding and relationships and collaborate on events that increase the presence of diverse students in study abroad. This past academic year, Syracuse Abroad has worked closely with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the LGBTQ Resource Center, and the Higher Education Opportunity Program and Student Support Services to organize events that provide students with the opportunity to learn more about study abroad.
- The University’s Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence held its Fall Symposium, which included a panel on career opportunities and other agenda items with an emphasis on diverse student participation from its consortium schools and panel members and speakers with an emphasis on diversity.
- The Center for Disability Resources co-presented with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on “Rethinking the Disability Paradigm: The University Community Working Together” to members of the Office of Human Resources Jan. 13.
- In the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the Department of Drama is incorporating course description changes that have been made to reflect the work that was done last fall in “Decolonizing the Syllabus.”
This is a tremendous time of opportunity to learn and connect, through events and programs across campus. Let us continue to further build on our efforts to ensure a campus that embraces all of its members.
Keith A. Alford
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer