Sharing Information on Resources and Supports to University Community
Friday, October 20, 2023
Dear Parents and Families:
Over the last two weeks, we and our colleagues have heard from many about the horrific terrorist attack on Israel, the ongoing loss of life in Israel and Gaza and the impact this escalating conflict is having on many of our students. We are reaching out today with an update on steps the University has taken since the deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the expanding conflict that has followed. No single message from us can account for all the work being done to support our community, or all the concerns you may have. This work is ongoing. As always, our objective remains to ensure the safety and well-being of our campus community, in particular our students.
First, we want to share with you how the University has responded to these events.
- On Monday, Oct. 9, Chancellor Kent Syverud issued the first of two messages to the campus, condemning the deadly acts of terrorism committed by Hamas against Israel, confirming no members of our community were traveling in the area or in harm’s way at the time of these attacks and providing an overview of resources and services available to students, faculty and staff. The Chancellor also called on the campus community to extend kindness, respect and compassion to those suffering and grieving. Read his full Oct. 9 statement.
- On Monday, Oct. 16, after observing the developments overseas and the sharp increase in antisemitism and Islamophobia here in the U.S. and globally, Chancellor Syverud issued a second message to the community. In this message, Chancellor Syverud reiterated our condemnation of the horrific terror attack on Israel, expressed our concern for the developing humanitarian crisis in the region and reminded our community that we must reject antisemitism, Islamophobia and terrorism. He reminded our students, faculty and staff that the pursuit of knowledge and respect and true understanding of others is the best antidote to hate. In this message, he also communicated the steps being taken to keep our community safe, which includes, among other things, an elevated presence of Department of Public Safety personnel on and around our campus, including key gathering spaces of faith for our students.
In addition to the above communications, the Office of Academic Affairs issued a message to all faculty calling on them to be especially mindful in how they engage students, as many students are feeling particularly vulnerable, distraught or concerned. We reminded our faculty we have many Jewish and Muslim students, as well as many who have strong ties to the impacted region, or are concerned about family, loved ones and their homes.
We are aware of reports of a small number of classroom interactions in which students have reported feeling unfairly targeted or distressed by the tone and language involved in these exchanges. The University takes these reports seriously, is looking into them and will take appropriate action if warranted. We are also aware that some faculty and departments have issued statements of their own about the conflict that some are experiencing as provocative and offensive. The foundational principles of free speech and academic freedom permit such statements of opinions on matters of importance. But we want to be clear—they do not speak for or on behalf of Syracuse University. Any statements made by individual faculty or departments should not be interpreted as the University’s position. We believe the free exchange of ideas and constructive public discourse can be valuable in increasing understanding, particularly in times like these. But we also believe this is best achieved when done in a respectful manner in which we genuinely listen to each other.
We are also aware of the chalking on sidewalks on the University Quad earlier this week in violation of University policy. That graffiti was promptly removed once reported to us. However, we recognize our students, faculty and staff can, and often do, hold divergent views on matters of local, national and global importance, and the University continues to reinforce that such disagreements be conducted in a manner that displays good faith and respect.
Please know the University is also supporting multiple organizations on campus and providing space for communities to come together to reflect on and process the terrorist attack on Israel, the ensuing conflict and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region. This includes two well-attended vigils led by Jewish and later Muslim faith leaders, students and community members (on Oct. 11 and 18, respectively) and educational programming in which faculty have provided opportunities for constructive and respectful discourse around the conflict, including a recent Maxwell School panel featuring scholars with specific expertise on the topic.
Resources and Supports
We recognize that many of you are speaking with your students regularly and hearing directly about their experiences and the challenges they may be experiencing. This situation brings forth understandable emotions. We have shared with students the resources available, but we want to familiarize you with this information as well so you can encourage your students to access these services as needed. We have created a landing page with some of the most relevant resources, which can be found by visiting Resources and Supports for the Orange Community.
Since the events of Oct. 7 occurred, the University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) has been conducting security assessments in close partnership with local and federal law enforcement officials. As a result of this partnership, we are closely monitoring activities and events on and around campus and where appropriate, assigning additional public safety personnel. Our DPS team will remain in close contact with our law enforcement partners, and take additional action, as appropriate. If your student observes or experiences activity perceived to present a risk to safety, please encourage them to report it to DPS immediately. They can report a crime, threat or suspicious activity by calling 315.443.2224. Anonymous tips can be reported to DPS through the Silent Witness tool or the Orange Safe mobile app.
STOP Bias and Hate Initiative
If your student experiences an incident they believe to be motivated by hostility toward their identity (including ethnic or religious identity), we ask you to encourage them to report it using our online STOP Bias system so it may be appropriately addressed. The STOP Bias and Hate Initiative webpage outlines resources to report and receive support for such incidents. You or your student may also elect to report a bias-motivated incident directly to the Department of Public Safety via the options on the Report a Crime webpage.
We recognize this is a difficult time for so many in our community and are committed to supporting our students, especially those most directly impacted by events in Israel and Gaza. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the team of professionals in Student Experience. We are here to support your student as we navigate these challenging times together.
Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Senior Vice President and Chief Student Experience Officer