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Lyman Hall, Syracuse University

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The students protesting racist incidents and hate crimes at Syracuse University have reached a win on Thursday after applying pressure to the school administration.

Not Again is the main group organizing the protests and they posted an update on their Instagram revealing Chancellor Kent Syverud has agreed to 16 of their 19 demands regarding a safer and more diverse environment for students on campus.

Some of the demands met include creating a clause in new faculty and staff contracts that “require mandatory diversity training, as well as new diversity hires.” Another demand involves students being able to “engage with the administration to strengthen or clarify the current anti-harassment policy regarding the use of abusive, threatening, or harassing hate speech” to convey that such language is unacceptable. Other demands agreed to include the development of a multicultural office building for organizations and programs, more counselors that better represent all marginalized identities on campus, and relinquishment of punishment for student protestors who engaged in sit-ins. Three of the 19 demands were not fully agreed to, but faced edits in red. You can check out the full checklist below.

 

The agreement to the demands arrives not too long after Not Again called for Syverud to step down. The call came on Wednesday evening at a forum when Syverud said he couldn’t immediately agree to all of the students’ demands. According to NBC News, this caused dozens of Syracuse University students to walk out with their fists held high, shouting “sign or resign!” The whole forum was pretty intense with Syverud saying, “I do not agree with everything I’ve heard. I do not agree with all the facts said.”

Syverud’s comments came after multiple racist incidents on campus caused outrage amongst students. There have been at least 12 instances since Nov. 6, including anti-Black and anti-Asian slurs graffitied in residence halls and a swastika drawn in a snowbank close to an apartment complex where students live. One of the most recent racist incidents involved a Black student being called the N-word on Saturday reportedly by fraternity members. Four students have since been suspended in response to this incident.

After outrage, protest, and several meetings between Syverud and the students, the school initially released a response to some of their demands on Tuesday. However, it was rejected by the students as not good enough, hence their calls on Wednesday for the chancellor to “sign” all 19 of their original demands or “resign.” They even called out the campus chief of police and other faculty if their demands weren’t met.

 

It seems the chancellor realized how serious the students were by Thursday morning because he agreed to nearly all of their 19 demands. According to Syverud, the three demands that had minor edits were necessary to comply with state laws or because they needed the Board of Trustees’ approval.

The school is continuing to work with the New York State Police and the FBI to investigate some of the racist attacks, including the swastika found in the snowbank and a reported “white supremacist manifesto” posted online that was allegedly aimed to be shared via students’ cellphones through AirDrop, a file-sharing function on Apple products.

Syverud also reiterated on Wednesday that a $50,000 reward will be offered for information that leads to the arrest of suspects.

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