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April 2021: Progress on Campus Commitments
Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:
We are actively engaged in creating the future of what a more inclusive campus community looks like at our university. The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Strategic Plan Task Force continues to meet with campus community members, gather insights and review data and research, which will come together in a draft of the University’s campuswide five-year strategic DEIA plan.
A great deal has occurred to get us to this point. Many students, faculty and staff have been engaged in DEIA efforts and highlighting where we can do better. Once the plan is approved by University leadership, we can begin to strengthen the work we’ve already put in place and build a campus environment where everyone feels valued and welcomed.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and members of the DEIA Strategic Plan Task Force have hosted virtual dialogue sessions throughout the month of April for the campus community to learn more about the planning process. A survey, available through May 15, also provides an asynchronous opportunity for students, faculty, staff and administration to offer confidential feedback to the task force.
This work will go beyond the progress that has been made on the Campus Commitments to our #NotAgainSU students, international students, Jewish students and Indigenous students. Some of the recent Campus Commitments updates include:
- The Living Learning Communities (LLC) and Housing Office websites were updated to reflect the new room selection process. The housing contract for LLC was updated to reflect the participation level and appropriate behavior expectations of students living in LLCs.
- Additional improvements at 113 Euclid Ave., which will house the Native Student Program, are planned for construction this summer. A new accessible entry door with a ramp and snowmelt is being constructed on the east side of the building. An elevator is being added to the building with stops on all three floors.
- Anti-Semitism training has been completed for spring 2021, and training dates for fall 2021 are being planned.
- The Native Student Program is working with admissions on language to inform all Indigenous/Haudenosaunee Promise Students about the Ionkerihonnién:ni [yion gali hoon ya ni] Guide Program.
- The search for an Indigenous healer on campus is progressing. Candidates are being screened by Human Resources and candidates will be forwarded to the search committee for interviews.
Our diversity and inclusion colleagues across campus are also engaged in important work through their own various initiatives. These include the following:
- The School of Information Studies was the lead school in the inaugural iSchool iDEA Forum on March 10, which included 13 iSchools. Led by Syracuse University’s iSchool Senior Associate Dean Martha Garcia-Murillo, the event highlighted DEIA issues around teaching, research and administration of information schools.
- The College of Arts and Sciences held sessions in March for faculty around framing conversations that happen in classrooms when discussing race, class, gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion, ability, sexual and gender identity, as well as other pertinent topics.
- Professor Kishi Animashaun Ducre, associate professor of African American Studies and associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Arts and Sciences organized and coordinated a virtual teach-in to address factors and implications surrounding the May 2020 murder of George Floyd and the subsequent trial of police officer Derek Chauvin this spring. A cross-disciplinary selection of faculty perspectives was gathered in video form to help those in our community and beyond understand the elements of the Chauvin trial.
- The Renée Crown University Honors program in the College of Arts and Sciences presented a virtual forum in March to reflect on anti-Asian racism in the United States.
- As part of Forever Orange Week, the Office of Multicultural Advancement, in partnership with the Office of Alumni Engagement, hosted a discussion featuring five female leaders in law, publishing, television, business operations and higher education. Each shared their perspectives on climbing the corporate ladder in male-dominated industries and how their Syracuse University education helped them find success.
- The 2021 State of the Field Journalism Symposium was presented by the Newhouse School and the Journalists Association of New York in March. The symposium included a keynote speech by Weijia Jiang G’06, CBS News senior White House correspondent, who spoke about the anti-Asian bias she and others experienced during coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a session titled “Reporting on Social Justice—Challenges and Strategies for Journalists.”
- Construction is complete at 119 Euclid Ave., a future building for Black students. E. Smith Contractors, a minority-owned business, was the general contractor, and environmental branding and artwork are being coordinated by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Accessible restroom construction and elevator installation are planned for this summer, and planning for a new accessible ramp is underway. Job postings for a full-time and part-time office coordinator are available on sujobopps.com.
- Syracuse University Libraries continued its focus on DEIA resources, with new items that include “The Weight of Whiteness: A Feminist Engagement With Privilege, Race, And Ignorance”; “Teaching the Teacher: LGBTQ Issues in Teacher Education”; and “Affirming Disability: Strengths-Based Portraits Of Culturally Diverse Families.”
- Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature, a collaboration between the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach at the Burton Blatt Institute and Syracuse University Libraries, hosted a reading and discussion with award-winning poet torrin a. greathouse in March. An M.F.A. candidate at the University of Minnesota, greathouse is a transgender cripple-punk.
As we continue on our shared journey of self-introspection—as individuals and a community—please join in a virtual session Wednesday, May 12, at 7 p.m. with Frank Wu, president of Queens College, City University of New York. The session will address the lived experiences of anti-Asian hate and bias, explore the historical context and examine steps for social change.
Through all of these experiences, let us continue to champion racial equity at every opportunity.
Keith A. Alford
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer