Prioritizing the Safety of Our Community

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Dear Orange Community:

Over the last several weeks, colleges and universities around our country have experienced a sharp uptick in antisemitism, Islamophobia and abhorrent conduct threatening members of campus communities based on their identity. Since the horrific Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel, and throughout the escalating violence that has claimed the lives of innocent Palestinian and Israeli civilians, Syracuse University has been focused on the safety and well-being of our campus community. We have taken action and made decisions that have been difficult, and to some unpopular, with the security of our people at the forefront.

Today, the University must make another difficult decision. This afternoon, a faculty member in one of our academic departments, in partnership with student groups, had planned to host a Middle Eastern studies scholar for a teach-in. This event was first brought to the attention of the University less than 24 hours ago after the faculty member involved in planning the event contacted the Department of Public Safety (DPS) with safety concerns. Since learning of the event, DPS, in partnership with local and federal law enforcement, has been working to assess how to safely host such an event. At this time, based on that assessment, Syracuse University is not able to confidently ensure the safety of the attendees, the speaker and our whole campus community and, thus, has made the decision that this event will not occur as scheduled today.

Syracuse University cares deeply about free speech and remains strongly committed to academic freedom. We support those seeking to become better informed about important public issues, such as the conflict in the Middle East. However, in the current environment, it is vital that all of us plan carefully and in advance to ensure free speech also occurs in a time, place and manner that takes into account the safety and security of our whole community. We will work with the organizers to reschedule this event when it can be done safely.

We urge our community to continue to show kindness and empathy to one another during these extraordinarily difficult times.


Kent Syverud
Chancellor and President

Gretchen Ritter
Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer