Monday rally addresses weekend delivery of student code of conduct to sit-in participants

Several professors spoke in support of the organization and its goals during the rally.

In a noon rally at the Remembrance Wall in front of Hall of Languages, students in THE General Body reaffirmed their commitment to their 14-day sit-in of Crouse-Hinds Hall.

In addition to raising again several of the points they say the administration inadequately addressed in its final response to negotiations — an end to hate speech and a commitment to diversity on campus, for example — members of THE General Body and its supporters also specifically addressed the delivery of the student code of conduct to students who spent the weekend in Crouse-Hinds.

No plans to initiate code of conduct charges against sit-in participants are currently in place, according to a Sunday email to the SU community from Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina, and no students have specifically been asked to leave the building. But SU’s Office of the General Counsel did on Friday provide students in Crouse-Hinds a highlighted copy of the code, indicating which provisions could apply to those taking part in the sit-in.

Particularly contentious regarding this has been the decision to deny an SU law professor access to the building when she went to offer legal counsel on Saturday. Paula Johnson, an SU law professor and co-director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative, addressed this aspect in a speech at the rally.

“There is no excuse for what happened,” Johnson said, likening the situation to a medical emergency that would have necessitated immediate access to the building. “This was a legal emergency.”

Spina, in his email, said the professor, Janis McDonald, was denied entry due to rules regarding the closure of the building during the weekends. Students are allowed to leave at any time during the weekend, but no one is permitted to enter the building again until 7 a.m. on Monday. And as students have full access to phones, computers and university Wi-Fi, he added, they can maintain communication with anyone they choose, including legal advisors.

Monday’s rally was marked by a significant non-student presence, drawing faculty and Syracuse community members who helped pack the sidewalk area near the Remembrance Wall with opened umbrellas. Following a weekend in which multiple letters from SU professors supporting THE General Body were posted to the organization’s website, professors in particular were among the rally’s speakers on Monday.

“I stand with THE General Body, and so do many of the faculty standing out there in the rain,” Johnson said.

Don Mitchell, a geography professor, likewise spoke in support of THE General Body.

“This is university is at a crossroads, and we owe THE General Body for pointing out exactly where it is,” Mitchell said. “They’re point to the pressure points where we can make change.” 

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