SU faculty, students continue to push for culture change
Syracuse University said it has identified one individual who may be responsible for a bias-related incident on campus, but there have been more than 20 racist and anti-Semitic incidents reported since November and new ones continue to be discovered.
But that's not stopping university officials from attempts to change the institution for the better. At a recent diversity forum hosted by the Newhouse School at Syracuse, Associate Dean Hub Brown proposed several changes to make their school more welcoming, from anti-bias training for staff to including in each professor's syllabi a section encouraging students to report inappropriate behaviors from the professor or their classmates to the professor and or how to report it up the chain to administration.
"We have to be much more open, we have to be much more accessible," Brown said. "We have to do the things we need to do to make sure they have the support they need from day one until graduation."
Julian Neely, a graduate student in the media studies program at SU, was one of several students who voiced support for the proposed changes but noted that many students don't feel comfortable confronting a professor.
"Grades could be impacted, the way you're treated in class could be an effect of it, so there’s a lot of different things that go through a person’s mind before you speak up," Neely said.
Neely was also concerned about whether anonymous reports about the professor or students ever resulted in any action by the university. He supports the university's newly announced policy to remove from campus any student who commits, assists, or coordinates an act of biased vandalism or graffiti.
"Those pieces are essential, but I think there are additional avenues that we can also take to be able to make that cultural shift at the university," Neely said.
Brown said the culture on campus does need to change and one potential way to do that could be the small, incremental changes that schools like Newhouse and others on campus are making from the ground up.
"I don’t know if we are going to be able to stop people from drawing graffiti on different places or those sorts of things, but I know what we can do," Brown said. "I know that we can take strong steps to make sure that students understand that they can come to us, that this is a space where they can learn in a place that values them, in a place that is safe for them."