by Cydney Lee
Amidst outrage from the hate crime that occurred in Day Hall last week, the Juvenile Urban Multicultural Program (J.U.M.P.) made a call to action on Monday night. What was supposed to be a general body meeting turned into a forum for students of color, primarily Black students, to discuss their frustrations with the university handling of racial incidents—an occurrence that’s all too familiar with the minority population.
Less than twenty-four hours after news broke out of the incident, J.U.M.P. organized a student forum split into three parts: the situation, the reaction, and the plan. Over 100 students gathered to express their concerns and condemn the university for sweeping racial tensions on campus under the rug.
“I really want to be on the forefront of this situation because I feel like [we’ve had] enough,” said J.U.M.P. co-fundraising chair, Samantha Metellus. “I’m a senior, and I feel like I’ve constantly been seeing stuff like this happening over and over. I think it’s time for us to all make our mark.”
In an email sent to the student body on Monday, Rob Hradsky, vice president of the student experience, said “we regret not communicating more broadly” and “we condemn all racist language and actions.” However, many students feel otherwise as hate crimes are a problem that plagues the Syracuse campus every school year. The email also said that DPS is currently investigating the situation…
This email came after a meeting that was held between Hradsky, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Chief Bobby Maldanaldo, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Keith Alford, Dean of Students Marianne Thomson, and all the residents of the Day Hall’s fourth and sixth floors. In an Instagram video made by one of the residents, a student disclosed that the officials instructed them not to go to the press with the situation.
Governor Andrew Cuomo called for an investigation of the incident by the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force. If the governor can acknowledge the hate crime AND label it as such, why can’t the university?
The main takeaway from the forum is that the university’s priorities questionable. Many Black students feel unsafe, unheard, and undervalued by a university whose “main priority” is the safety of its students. These feelings are warranted as this is not the first (or the second, third, fourth, etc.…) time Black students have been overlooked by the administration.
The financial backing and reputation of Syracuse University is believed to take precedence over the safety and concerns of minority students. Some students pointed out the Forever Orange fundraising campaign that took place last week as another reminder of the university’s nebulous priorities.
While one student expressed that they felt hurt by the hate crime, another student pushed for the resignation of Chancellor Kent Syverud citing him as “the root of the problem.” Syverud sent out an email Tuesday morning expressing his “serious concern” over the hate crime, yet he has been MIA in lieu of the campus discussions.
SU freshman Roman Doyle was vocal throughout the night as he wanted to show his support as a white student on campus. He believes that “it’s not the duty of the oppressed to change the views of the oppressor.” His statement was met with loud applause.
Doyle’s friend and fellow freshman Jordan Pierre brought him to the forum. Pierre believes that everyone should be on the same page and the outrage shouldn’t be temporary.
“I think as a Black community, we’re big on being mad in the moment,” he said. “Our mission is to make sure that we keep this going on, not for just this year, but for the years to come.”
The forum concluded with students brainstorming a plan of action moving forward. J.U.M.P. asked for the plan not be disclosed.
It’s ironic that it takes a divisive situation like this to occur for us to come together. But as long as things like this happen and university administrators continue to show their true colors, our united front will only grow stronger.