Syracuse University students staged a sit-in protest on Wednesday after racist graffiti was found inside a residence hall building on the school’s campus.
Some 50 students gathered and rallied outside of the Barnes Center at Archbold Gymnasium on the SU campus. Many of them were students of color who expressed feeling unsafe and demanded university officials take a proactive stance by complying to their list of nine demands.
Syracuse’s Department of Public Safety and the Syracuse Police Department launched an investigation into the matter. Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force and the state Division of Human Rights to launch a probe as well, Syracuse.com reports.
After the students criticized the university for its lax response to address the incident, the school’s Chancellor Kent Syverud appeared briefly at the sit-in and apologized.
“It feels like he came in just to be able to say he did,” senior Samantha Metellus told the outlet. “We want to have a conversation with him.”
Another senior Jala Wilson said the school’s slow response rang familiar. Last year, the school took some time to indefinitely ban the Theta Tau fraternity after members were caught spewing hateful racist taunts and made lewd homophobic jokes in a video.
“He took forever to talk to us then,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like a deeply personal concern.”
Students handed off their list of demands to Syverud which includes:
- The expulsion of any students involved in Day Hall vandalism.
- The creation of a twice-annual open forum for students to communicate directly with the Board of Trustees.
- Curriculum reform to better educate students on questions of diversity.
- Mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff.
- A zero-tolerance policy for hate speech among students.
- A “same race” option for roommate selection on the student housing application.
- Hiring of additional counselors that better represent student body and marginalized communities.
- $1 million investment in long-term curriculum changes that address issues of diversity and racism.
Syverud vowed to examine the list of demands and follow up with students after he consults with his leadership team.
The students, however, seemingly have the support of some school administrators as SU’s chief of public safety, the senior vice president of for the student experience and enrollment, and the chief diversity officer, were allies in their protest efforts.