New Racist Incidents at SU Lead to Continued Protests, Campus Forum Demanding Change

Nov 14, 2019

Students at an evening forum challenged Syracuse Univesity officials for not doing enough to combat racism and discrimination on campus, after a series of racist vandalism incidents.
Credit Scott Willis/WAER News

(UPDATE: 11/15/2019 6:15 AM) On Thursday night, the SU Department of Public Safety informed the campus community an investigation into another report of graffiti at Day Hall is underway, the same residence hall where two floors of racist graffiti was recently found.  The notification was sent out at 11:35 PM. 


The latest graffiti was discovered on the third floor of the dorm and in a statement from DPS, the graffitti “maligns the Asian community.”  The department is calling it “a potential bias incident.”  Anyone with information may call SU Public Safety at (315) 443-2224.  

A packed auditorium of students expressed their anger over a series of racist vandalism incdients on the Syracuse University Campus to University officials Thursday night.  The meeting took place the day after another racist message was found in a university building.  And later Thursday people reported seeing a swastika stamped into the snow near student housing off campus.  Students at the hearing talked about the mood on campus as a result, criticizing what they see as insufficient attention toward bias.

“You put in the handbook there’s a zero-tolerance policy for racial discrimination (but) you all tolerate it every single day (applause). I come across students who are blatantly racist, white supremacist every day when I go to class,” said one forum speaker.

Another student at the forum described having a racist slur directed at him, then reporting it to university officials – to no avail.

University Officials, including Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado (with mic) and VP Robert Hradsky (R), listened to students and promised action.
Credit Scott Willis/WAER News

“My ex-roommate just called me a ‘Ching Chong’ right in front of my face, and I reported it.  Up til now, no one has replied.  How is this … going on, especially in (the same place as past racist graffiti) 4th floor, Day Hall.”

Among student demands are that the people responsible for the racist vandalism be expelled.  The meeting drew university officials, including Vice President Robert Hradsky and Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado, who told the crowd they’re doing everything they can to find those responsible.

“We don’t have a sustainable lead; We don’t have a promising lead at this point in time.  We’re working all the promising leads that we can.  Were going to continue to talk to people and hopefully develop a lead that will lead to finding the people responsible.”

The packed evening forum followed more incidents flllowing last week's racist graffiti in an SU residence hall. Another racial slur was found in a university building and a swastika was found stamped into snow near off-campus student housing.
Credit Scott Willis/WAER News

The meeting followed a second day of sit-in protests at the campus health and wellness center.  Maldonado told students they could continue their protest there overnight.  Some students expressed frustration that Chancellor Kent Syverud did not show up at the meeting. 

STUDENT DEMANDS & CHANCELLOR RESPONSE

Other student demands include creating a forum in which students can express more about their campus experience; make more diversity training mandatory for staff at all levels; develop a building for multi-cultural affairs and organizations; create a $1 million fund for a curriculum to teach all students about contemporary diversity issues.  Those who created the demands say if not met by next Wednesday, they’ll call for Chancellor Syverud’s and VP Hradsky’s resignations. 

The protest started over delayed response to incidents of racist graffiti in bathrooms inside the University’s Day Hall residence.  Syverud sent a message to campus expressing his concern over the slow responds and not making the incident public more quickly.  He met with students at the sit-in protest Wednesday, telling them that he is calling for immediate action:

  • I have asked that there be prompt implementation of a new protocol for how the University responds to bias incidents. It is vital that we simultaneously prioritize caring for students directly impacted, communicating in a timely manner to the campus community, and swiftly investigating the incident. Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Keith Alford, Department of Public Safety (DPS) Chief Bobby Maldonado and Dean Thomson will finalize this approach by next week.
  • Many students have raised questions about the current Code of Student Conduct and whether it needs to be revisited and revised, especially as it pertains to bias-related incidents. I have directed Dean Thomson to work with student leaders on this and promptly report any suggested changes.

SYRACUSE MAYOR BEN WALSH ON RACIST INCIDENTS, PLEDGES CITY'S HELP

“Late Thursday afternoon, a swastika was marked in the snow on Comstock Avenue. This is another of several such racist incidents in our City in the past week. These acts are vile and appalling, and they will not be tolerated. The Syracuse Police Department is actively investigating this most recent incident, and they are also involved in the prior cases. We will keep working to find the people responsible.

I want to echo the comments made earlier this week by Governor Cuomo when he was in our City, ‘when you attack one of us, you attack us all.’ These acts are designed to divide our community, and they have no place in Syracuse. They violate everything our City stands for and all that we are working to be – a city that embraces diversity and creates opportunity for all. I reject them and direct city resources to do all that we can to stop them.”