Students occupy Crouse-Hinds Hall through sit-in, demanding acknowledgment of listed concerns

About 40 students will spend the night in the building's lobby.

Calling listening meetings inadequate, Syracuse University students have organized a sit-in at Crouse-Hinds Hall to demand that the administration address concerns related to diversity and transparency on campus.

About 40 participants will spend the night in the lobby of Crouse-Hinds, said Yanira Rodriguez, a PhD student in composition and culture, even though the building regularly closes at 10 p.m. Their goal is a written and verbal commitment from Chancellor Kent Syverud to address a 43-page list of grievances and demands, said geography senior Christine Edgeworth.

Several organizers began a meeting with administration representatives shortly after 5:30 p.m. This lasted approximately two hours. But as the chancellor is not currently on campus, one student participant reported that conversation has been limited based on a lack of decision-making power. While the two sides discussed the students’ demands, the only substantial point that could be decided at the moment is when a further meeting should be scheduled.

The list of demands, which is available on the General Body’s website, primarily covers issues that fall under the umbrellas of “transparency” or “diversity.” Some specific points, such as the closure of the Advocacy Center, cuts to the Posse program and divestment on campus, have been highlighted through individual protests earlier this semester. Other points range from a lack of student input in the Fast Forward Syracuse initiative and the inadequate amount of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.

The sit-in follows a 3:30 p.m. rally on the Quad. This rally was hosted by the General Body, a new student organization composed of participants from several social justice-oriented student organizations. The idea, said geography and policy studies senior Emma Edwards, stems from activist Van Jones’ visit to SU in October for the University Lecture series. Jones initially pointed out that many of the individual protests that had cropped up on campus early in the semester shared common themes, Edwards said. The first meeting of the General Body followed shortly after.

“Strength in numbers,” Edwards said. “That’s what’s going to get us places.”

Edwards said that rally participants walked toward Crouse-Hinds around 4:30 p.m., after the rally, and found security barring their entrance. Administration officials offered to meet with the students in Schine Student Center, she said, but the protesters refused out of a symbolic intention to use the building that houses the chancellor’s office.

About 60 people finally made it into the building through a back door, she said. They have been occupying the lobby of the building ever since. Repeated reminders to quiet down and clear pathways keep them in line with the Fire Marshall’s guidelines, said organizer Colton Jones, a psychology senior.

Some students sat against walls, with laptops and homework sprawled in front of them. Others have been making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Discussions on how other food will be brought into the building have been sporadic.

Around 7:10 p.m., a geography professor Bob Wilson began a teach-in in the lobby. He spoke on the history of activism at SU, concluding: “See yourself as part of a longer history of struggle here at SU.”

“Students are taking a risk by sitting in here, and we need the support of our student body,” Christine Edgeworth said. “We’re doing this because we love SU and we want to see it be the best it can be.” 

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