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Students continue sit-in at SU, gain faculty support

Ellen Abbott
Protesters at Syracuse University continue to rally for more policy changes on campus. The university has made some concessions, but is now calling for the protest to end.

The student sit-in at Syracuse University’s Crouse-Hinds Hall has entered its third week. The protesters who call themselves "THE General Body" say they are attracting a groundswell of support from faculty, and held a rally to show it.

"I swear to you that us faculty members will stand behind you, not for as long as you are sitting in, but forever after," said S.U. Geography Professor Don Mitchell, who offered support to student protesters at a rainy rally in front of the Hall of Languages Monday.  

He suggests S.U. is trying to quash a student body that’s become more diverse over the years.

“That change is being eroded," Mitchell said. "It’s being eroded in a false pursuit of rankings.”

He says he believes the students are being used to promote the school's national standing.

"They have an image of a university as an instrumental machine that will churn out a certain kind of worker," Mitchell explained. "That’s not what we want. We want people who know who they are, why they are and what they are doing."

Last week, S.U. Chancellor Kent Syverud called for an end to the protest, noting the school has responded to many of the students concerns, including the closure of a sexual assault advocacy center. Protesters have a list of demands beyond that, focusing on what they say is an atmosphere on campus that leaves students with marginalized identities feeling unsafe and unsupported.
Law School Professor Paula Johnson applauded the students' commitment to making changes at the school.

“We stand with these students," Johnson said. "We demand that there be no reprisals against these students. They are the conscious of this community, and we are calling on this community to do the right thing."

Johnson says these students are bringing up issues that many fellow faculty members won’t, and she encourages support for these protesters.

“Use all the means at your disposal to say what the future of this university will be," Johnson said. "Do not be silenced, do not be cowed. Do the right thing.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.