Syracuse University Students End Their 18 Day Sit-in, Connect With Faculty and Other Student Groups Nationally in Opposition to Corporatization of Campuses
The controversy began this last May when Kent Syverud, Syracuse University’s new Chancellor, closed the University’s historic Advocacy Center, one of the first of its kind designed to prioritize the needs of victims of sexual assault. Where did this action lead?
On Thursday November 20th, THE General Body, a united front of Syracuse University student groups that has been mobilizing against cuts in a broad range of student services including the Advocacy Center, staff cuts in all non-academic units, a below living wage for 59% of Teaching Assistants, and the new Chancellor’s mysterious but far-reaching “Fast Forward” management initiative, ended a sit-in in the lobby of Crouse Hinds Hall, downstairs from SU Chancellor Kent Syverud’s administrative suite. The 18 day sit-in yielded some concessions.
The sit-in began on Monday, November 3rd, following a rally for Diversity and Transparency at Hendricks Chapel. Protestors marched to Crouse Hinds Hall to deliver their grievances to the administration, their second attempt to meet with the Chancellor. They were denied them entrance to the building: University officials would meet with them at the Schine Student Center. Students finally gained admittance to the building and announced that day that they would sit in Crouse Hinds Hall until Chancellor Syverud committed to addressing their grievances. During the sit-in, the students endured constant surveillance. Armed University Department of Public Safety Guards sat in groups of two or three, at each of the building’s entrances, most of the time; at some points, during the students’ first weekend in Crouse, there was a total of ten guards. Students woke up with Guards taking pictures of them. During the students’ second weekend, the University waited until the building was closed to have their attorney deliver hand addressed envelopes, with the student’s individual names on it, to 15 of the students. Inside the envelopes were copies of the Student Code of Conduct and Disruption Policies highlighted. While such letters didn’t appear to charge particular individuals with any infractions, they did seem designed to intimidate, especially any international students present who might worry about losing their green cards.
For the next 18 days, the students succeeded in using mainstream and social media to get word out about the sit-in and their grievances and demands. While the sit-in ended on Thursday, November 20th, a broader resistance against the new Chancellor’s Fast Forward corporate initiative is growing.
On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, more than one hundred faculty published an open letter to the Chancellor and Board of Trustees in the Daily Orange supporting THE General Body, and resisting the Board of Trustees’ and Chancellor Syverud’s plans to revise the University’s Mission and Vision Statement in ways that undercut faculty governance and make management practices less transparent. The day after that letter was published, Chancellor Syverud appeared at the University Senate, ostensibly to reassure the University community that the administration is listening to their concerns; he also defended the Board of Trustees’ right to override functions formerly decided by shared governance.
THE General Body’s website shows they are connecting with other anti-corporatization student groups, such as those at Colgate University and the University of California.
StudentNation, “Fifteen Millennial Movements Taking Off This Week,” The Nation, November 24, 2014,
THE General Body website, http://Thegeneralbody.org/.
“Open Letter to Chancellor Syverud and Syracuse University’s Board of Trustees,” Daily Orange, December 2, 2014, p. 4,
For a deeper analysis of current student resistance to corporate practices at Syracuse University, see: http://www.dailycensored.com/students-win-small-victories-in-18-day-sit-in-vow-to-continue-the-struggle-against-corporate-practices-at-syracuse-university/. For a deeper look at what it was like for the students inside that weekend, look here: http://www.dailycensored.com/introduction-and-student-journal-from-the-sit-in-at-syracuse/.
Student Researchers: Kerry Van Name and Laurie Koller (Syracuse University)
Faculty Evaluator: Jeff Simmons (Syracuse University)