- Posters hang on the windows of the building where Syracuse students staged a sit-in over racist incidents on campus.
- Maranie Staab/Reuters
- A protest movement formed at Syracuse University earlier this month in response to a series of disturbing racist incidents on campus.
- The leaders of #NotAgainSU staged a sit-in of the campus health center and refused to leave until the chancellor agreed to their 19 demands, something he did in part on Thursday.
- But some of the students Insider spoke to disagreed with some of the changes the movement was calling for, especially that minority students be allowed to specifically demand a roommate of the same race.
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SYRACUSE, New York – Protests erupted at Syracuse University earlier this month in response to a barrage of racist incidents on campus.
Hundreds of students staged a sit-in at the campus’ main gym last week, refusing to leave until the chancellor agreed to all 19 of their demands.
But then Chancellor Kent Syverud agreed, with some slight tweaks for things out of his control and legal issues.
Yet the protesters weren’t satisfied. They then started calling for Syverud’s resignation.
Visiting campus this week, students told Insider they’re scared, but more than anything, they’re angry at the administration’s tepid response to racist incidents time and time again.
The students of the #NotAgainSU movement have a right to be angry. Race-related issues have cropped up several times since Syverud became chancellor nearly six years ago, most notably the surfacing of disturbing videos showing the members of a campus fraternity performing racist skits in 2017.
To the protesters, the emergence of racist graffiti on campus, and a black student being called the N-word by a group gathered outside another fraternity on November 16, are evidence that the chancellor doesn’t care about issues affecting minorities.
With 22,000 students, not everyone agrees with the #NotAgainSU movement
- Syracuse University students attend a rally against white supremacy on November 20.
- Maranie Staab/Reuters
But not all students were in support of some of the changes the protesters were calling for.
While many students Insider spoke to said they supported the protests, with 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students, not everyone’s going to agree.
Austin, a black freshman who wished to be identified by only his first name, told Insider he didn’t participate in the movement because some of the demands “seemed kind of outlandish.”
Koen Weaver, a sophomore who serves as secretary for the College Republicans club at the school, told Insider the group was careful to note that they “don’t agree with all the demands that are being made by this movement” when they released a statement in solidarity with the movement.
“We talked with a lot of people on campus, not only within our club. We talked to members of #NotAgainSU that weren’t exactly involved in the policy creation,” Weaver said.
He continued: “We talked to just general people on campus that maybe weren’t so involved in the student movement, and people were very wary of that right off the bat, because it is, in a way, [creating] an identity echo chamber and it’s kind of the self segregation of the university, which we definitely don’t want in any respect.”
The protesters’ demands have morphed over time, at one point requesting a ‘same race’ options for dorms
- Students rally against white supremacy at Syracuse University on November 20.
- Maranie Staab/Reuters
The list of demands has gone through several revisions before the chancellor signed off on a final version early Thursday morning. But early drafts of the list gave some students pause.
In particular, the first draft demanded the institution of a “same race” option for students applying to live in a dorm. Freshman students at the school are required to live in the dorms and are randomly paired with a roommate.
Austin said the initial demand about race being a factor in housing “didn’t make sense to me” and seemed like “voluntary segregation.”
Another demand was considerably toned down by the time a final version of the list was put out.
In the early stages of the list’s creation, the protesters said that anyone involved in the racist incidents should be expelled, and defined involvement as those who perpetrated the racism, accomplices, and bystanders, according to student newspaper The Daily Orange.
By the time the chancellor signed the list, that wording had been changed to say that the administration would implement “different punishments for different levels of involvement, including expulsion.”
Anti-racist protesters at Syracuse University brought the chancellor to his knees, but now they want his head
The #NotAgainSU movement gave the chancellor until November 20 to sign their list of demands or resign. He signed it just after midnight on November 21, with three small edits including the striking of the word “identity” when it comes to factors students can choose their roommates based on (he was fine with students choosing roommates on mutual interests, however). The other two issues were changed because they are issues that are in the Board of Trustees’ purview.
Austin said he didn’t agree with calling for the chancellor’s resignation.
“I don’t agree with saying that Ken should resign. I mean I feel like there’s only so much he can do. Like granted … he hasn’t handled these events with the most grace, but he can’t stop every single event,” Austin said.
Despite Syverud capitulating to their demands, the #NotAgainSU movement called for his resignation on Thursday. The chancellor has yet to respond.
The chancellor’s office did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.