Gov. Andrew Cuomo is condemning the racist messages found on two floors of a Syracuse University residence hall. In addition to SU and Syracuse Police, the governor has directed the State Police hate crimes unit to investigate.
In an unrelated stop to Syracuse Tuesday, Cuomo took several minutes to address the matter. He says the anti-African American and anti-Asian graffiti shouldn’t be dismissed.
"Any incident, 'Well it's just some racist slogan written on a wall,' no! Zero tolerance. 'Well it's just a Swastika that they painted on a wall,' no! Wherever it is, whenever is is, we all stand up together and we condemn it."
The vandalism was discovered in Day Hall last Thursday, but it didn’t become public until a few days later. In a message to the SU community, Chancellor Kent Syverud says he’s disappointed that the university’s leadership team didn’t communicate the incident more swiftly and broadly. He says the repercussions of the incident are far-reaching and are a concern to everyone. Governor Cuomo knows we’re living in more hostile and anxious times, but says New Yorkers are better than that.
"I get [that] everybody is angry and everybody is divisive. Let's show them another way. Let's show them yes, we are the most diverse but we can rise to the challenge and we will not sucumb to the weakness," Cuomo said.
Cuomo calls it our moral and ethical compass as a state that has prided itself on accepting differences among people from all over the globe.
CHANCELLOR SYVERUD'S MESSAGE
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2019
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
I am writing this morning to express my serious concern over the racist graffiti and vandalism found in Day Hall. I also want to address our response to this wrongful act, the status of the investigation and our focus right now.
First, I want to speak to the University’s response to this incident. It’s clear that the members of the leadership team should have communicated more swiftly and broadly. I am disappointed that didn’t happen in this case. While, I appreciate the personalized and immediate care our leaders provided to Day Hall residents directly impacted by this incident, repercussions are far-reaching and are a concern to us all.
Next, I want to provide an update on the investigation, which remains active at this time. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) was first alerted to the racist graffiti and vandalism on the 4th and 6th floors of Day Hall on Thursday, November 7. In partnership with the Syracuse Police Department, DPS initiated an investigation immediately. To date, the investigation has included interviews with students and evidence collection. DPS has followed several leads and continues to work aggressively to find the individual or individuals responsible. Additionally, the New York State Police’s Hate Crimes Task Force has offered its support and we are collaborating to make full use of its resources. I anticipate this investigation will continue to be fluid. While I want to ensure we maintain the integrity of the investigation, I have asked my team to be increasingly timely in sharing updates, particularly as new facts are discovered.
Over the last several days, Bobby Maldonado, DPS chief, Marianne Thomson, dean of students, and Keith Alford, chief diversity and inclusion officer, have met multiple times with students directly impacted. This includes a Day Hall meeting where students expressed their concerns and sought action and support. It also includes the conversation that occurred last night during a student organization’s previously scheduled meeting. These meetings will continue today and members of my team will be on hand this evening at the Residence Hall Association Open Forum.
I have asked them to be open and receptive to hearing and acting on constructive feedback. It’s our shared responsibility to make Syracuse University a welcoming, safe and inclusive learning and living environment for all.
Chancellor Kent Syverud