Students are continuing their sit-in at Syracuse University over the school’s handling of a series of racist vandalism incidents and verbal attacks. Chancellor Kent Syverud and other administration officials sent students a video announcement detailing the closing down of a fraternity implicated in a verbal racist attack, along with increased safety patrols and promises to improve diversity training and curriculum.
Students say they’re encouraged by administration moves, but not optimistic. Andrew Seymour took part in the sit-in and supports the fraternity closing.
"That's an appropriate response and that's the kind of quick, heavy-handed response that students want to see, like if there is no excuse for hate speech or bias."
He remembers similar discussions after the Theta Tau incident, where fraternity members were recorded using racist and sexist language. He hopes for more concrete actions now.
"I'm just holding onto that last shred of positivity and optimism, and hoping that these students organizing the protest has been enough to make someone care, and make someone feel their pain and their trauma that they've been feeling for years."
It’s been harder to track down those responsible for a series of racist graffiti messages on campus. Public Safety officials say they continue to investigate … and they’re increasing safety patrols. Kaylyn Dion appreciates increased transparency about their response.
"[The University] letting us know how they were looking to find the suspects, and that they did explicitly say 'we're looking at cameras,' and that they quickly identified which fraternity that involved [was helpful]."
Fraternities are not implicated in any of the racist graffiti. Student Cleo Hamilton suggests the head of SU security could get help from City Police.
"They need to talk to Chief Buckner from the Syracuse City Police department [to say that] they need to add more Syracuse police cameras in and outside of this college campus."
Dion adds the numerous incidents have shaken the campus climate.
"I just can't imagine being a freshman trying to adjust, trying to find that community, and feeling so threatened. It just really bothers me. I can't shake it."
These students do not speak for the group organizing the protest.
The #NotAgainSU leaders are demanding expulsion for the perpetrators, a $1 million fund for anti-racist curriculum, and increased diversity training.