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…
March 2021: Progress on Campus Commitments
Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:
We are poised to make even greater strides in our efforts to achieve a more inclusive, welcoming campus community. In a message to campus last week, it was announced the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Strategic Planning Task Force will complete a draft strategic plan in June 2021. Once approved by Chancellor Kent Syverud and the Executive Team, implementation will begin—and we will build upon the vital work already being done across campus in this area.
That work also includes the tremendous progress that has been made on the Campus Commitments. From those initial 35 Campus Commitments made to our #NotAgainSU students, international students and Jewish students in November 2019, the result so far is the following:
- 25 commitments have been completed, and
- 10 commitments are substantially complete.
Indigenous students presented their original concerns in a document in December 2019. After several rounds of discussions, a revised set of concerns were agreed upon and signed in October 2020. Those commitments, grouped in seven areas of concern, are also being addressed: one is complete; two are substantially complete; and four are in progress.
Many campus community members continue to contribute to these efforts. Below are some recent updates to our Campus Commitments:
- The Senate Committee for Academic Freedom, Tenure and Professional Ethics is providing recommendations on the draft anti-harassment policy.
- The University will add Brewster Hall (33 spaces) to the Multicultural Living and Learning Communities (MLLC) portfolio for a total of 140 spaces for fiscal year 2022. Additionally, the University will add 40 spaces in Watson Hall to the portfolio for Upperclass MLLCs for a total of 112 spaces.
- An initiative is underway to grow the Our Time Has Come scholarship endowment from $5 million to $10 million. Through donor gifts, the fund has increased to $8.1 million.
- The implementation of DiversityEdu, a series of asynchronous learning modules that focuses on building inclusion skills, is nearing completion.
- As part of a virtual tutoring initiative, over 200 Central New York students have connected to tutors and workshop leaders and over 300 tutors have volunteered to provide support, including a mix of professionals, retired teachers, college students, staff, professors and experts nationwide.
- The Greater China Alumni Endowed Scholarship has increased by nearly $50,000 since early fall 2020.
- The newly named Ionkerihonnién:ni [yion gali hoon ya ni] Guide Program held its first seminar meeting on Feb. 17. University Ombuds Neal Powless was the guest speaker.
- The Native Student Program and Office of Multicultural Affairs continue to solicit new guides and participants.
- Hendricks Chapel Dean Brian Konkol has met with the committee of Indigenous students to plan the commissioning of a permanent marker on campus that acknowledges the University’s relationship with the Onondaga Nation and recognizes its presence on ancestral land. Students have chosen to work with artist Brandon Lazore, Onondaga Nation, Snipe Clan.
Along with the progress on the Campus Commitments, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her colleagues from the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison law firm recently completed their independent review [PDF] of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and framework for a DPS Community Review Board. In addition, the Board of Trustees Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity and Inclusion completed its comprehensive review and delivered its final report and recommendations [PDF] to advance the University’s goals in diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. Further insights are also being made available from Damon Williams regarding the campus climate pulse survey.
And across campus, in schools and colleges and units, various initiatives are underway that expand our overall diversity efforts:
- The College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Faculty Hiring Guidelines were recently updated to include a requirement for job candidates to submit a diversity statement.
- The Center for Disability Resources’ Diversity Committee’s first initiative was planning and participating in the third annual “Student Empowerment Day” on Feb. 25, a coalition rally for students to advocate for funding disability services in higher education.
- More than 4,000 people tuned in for the 36th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, which was presented virtually for the first time.
- The College of Engineering and Computer Science received bronze level status by the American Society for Engineering Education’s Diversity Recognition Program.
- The Whitman School of Management initiated a schoolwide diversity, equity and inclusion online educational platform.
- Faculty Affairs has delivered 12 “Transforming Hot Moments Into Learning Opportunities” workshops, which use classroom scenarios to assist faculty with addressing challenging issues.
In April, please join in any of the many events being held in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. The series of events, hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs in collaboration with campus departments and student organizations, includes an impressive and poignant array of programs.
Our work, as always, is imperative as we collaborate to create a campus culture where everyone feels valued and respected. To that end, community members are encouraged to participate in an upcoming session Tuesday, March 30, at noon. The event will include information about the campus survey, next steps for the task force and how the campus community can be engaged with the work. Please register for the event. This event will provide live captioning via Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) and American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. If you want to request additional accommodations or need more information, please email the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith A. Alford
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer