THE General Body holds press conference Tuesday calling for administrative action

The press conference addressed sexual violence, counseling services and underrepresentation of minorities.

THE General Body held a press conference Tuesday afternoon at 500 Hall of Languages, addressing the subjects of underrepresentation of racial minorities and inadequate counseling resources for mental health and victims of sexual violence.

Danielle Reed, editor-in-chief of The Black Voice and THE General Body member, said at the conference that the administration failed to increase the number of students and faculty of color after their grievances about that issue in the fall. Reed said great progress was still needed for the grievance addressed at the conference.

“We are calling for a halt to this top-down decision making,” Reed said.

Nick Holzthum, a junior in the School of Information Studies and co-president of Disability Student Union, said the administration needs to cater to people not only with visible impairment but also mental disabilities. Holzthum argued that the university needs to hire a coordinator who is given the autonomy to address these issues.

Montinique McEachern, counselor at Crouse Hospital and a graduate student in the School of Education, said that the school administration underserves people struggling with mental health issues. McEachern said there was only one psychiatrist and one psychiatric nurse for the 25,000 SU and ESF students. 

“They are understaffed, underfunded and overcrowded,” said McEachern, referring to the counseling centers that dealt with mental health problems. In addition, she pointed out that mental health services still tended to serve the white and affluent more than students of disabilities, students of color, queer and transgender students. “Mental health and mental healing are the threads that unite us all. It is crucial that Syracuse University hires more trained mental health professionals. And those people should be a reflection of and able to serve those students who bear the burden of this campus of oppressive policies, climates and ideologies.”

Kulsoom Ijaz, a third-year law student, identified three problems she argues the administration has in sexual violence prevention and challenging a rape culture against women. First, she said the signs in the restrooms about the counseling centers for sexual violence do not specify whether the sessions are confidential, and the updated signs were missing in the law school and several dorms. Second, the campus took a step toward the “Yes means Yes” campus policy, but didn't notify or educate the campus community about what subject the policy addresses. Third, Ijaz said the university should create an environment that does not tolerate sexual and dating violence.

Ijaz urged that although the chancellor apologized for the closing of the Advocacy Center after the 18-day sit-in, he still should commit to a timeline to deal with the problems immediately. “Unfortunately, without adequate action and response to the situations, sexual assault, dating violence and the need for greater resources for the campus community, SU is perpetuating a pattern of silence,” Ijaz said.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.