Things That Matter

Students Of Syracuse University Are Left Angered As Their Campus Is Rocked By Anonymous Acts Of Racism

It’s no secret that we’re living in a time that’s marked by the fear of domestic terrorism. Not only did hate crimes reach a 16 year high in 2018 according to the FBI, but according to the Gun Violence Archive, as of November 17th, there have been 369 mass shootings in the U.S. These two factors combined make the threat of mass violence a daily reality in the U.S. And that threat is the most acute for young adults going to school in the U.S.

And it’s no wonder that students on both college campuses and in high schools live in fear of an act of domestic terror being perpetrated against them. In a generation where 96% of American schools practice “active shooter” lockdown drills, young generations have been conditioned into being constantly on-guard for possible violence. And with the uptick in hate crimes, it’s understandable that students of color feel that they might be the target of a random act of domestic terrorism. Recently, the fear of mass violence has permeated the campus of Syracuse University.

Syracuse University has been making national headlines after a series of anonymous racist incidents rocked the central New York campus.

The panic at Syracuse began to build in early November, when, according to Vice, students woke up to “the n-word scrawled across the walls of both bathrooms on two floors of the residence hall”. Additionally, students of color had their name tags ripped away from their dorm room doors and torn apart. 

Things escalated further when a white supremacist manifesto infamous for its part in the Christchurch mosque shootings was uploaded to Syracuse’s page on the popular social media platform, GreekRank. And the fear reached a fever pitch when the Christchurch mosque shootings manifesto was allegedly anonymously air-dropped to a number of phones in the University library (the latter which has since been branded a “hoax” by the University chancellor). 

According to accounts, students are afraid to leave their dorms, go to class, and for students of color, draw attention to themselves in any way. Many are fleeing the campus altogether, opting to go home early as the semester winds to a close. Their professors, for the most part, have been understanding of their students’ fear. Professor of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition, Dr. Rebecca Moore Howard took to Twitter to address her students. “I have just canceled my classes tomorrow,” she said. “Too many students  messaging me that they’re scared to go to class….No class I teach is so important that my students—esp black, brown—should risk their safety”.

Students and faculty are angry at the administration for what they believe is a lackluster response to what they perceive as direct threats to minorities and marginalized groups on campus. 

Quickly, a movement that called itself #NotAgainSU formed, organizing a sit-in to protest what they believed was a lackluster response to the blatant racism happening on the university’s campus. The organization drew up a list of demands that included️ the expulsion of anyone involved in racist incidents and the hiring of more counselors the identify with marginalized groups.

But students and faculty are still disappointed at the action (or lack thereof) that the administration has taken. “There is a tension where it seems the administration is fearful of being sued by frats or affecting the University’s reputation,” said assistant political science professor Dr. Jenn M. Jackson to New York Magazine. “Meanwhile Black, Latinx, Asian, Jewish, and international/immigrant students are afraid to leave their rooms.” 

As inspiring as the student activism is, it didn’t stop the racially-motivated petty crimes from continuing to happen across campus. According the University’s Department of Public Safety, there were already 14 hate crimes reported during the length of the sit-in, one of them being a large swastika drawn in the snow. Another was an incident of derogatory graffiti aimed at Asians.

Although some progress has been made with Chancellor Kent Syverud recently admitting that there “are things that have not been handled well enough during this series of recent events,” many believe their words aren’t enough.

Students claim they won’t be happy until radical action is taken by the school’s administration.

Students of color are visibly fed up with living in fear.

Students are calling for the University’s chancellor to agree to their demands or resign.

Joe Biden, who went to Syracuse as an undergrad student, even chimed in on the conversation.

This observer makes it pretty clear what she thinks of people who won’t take a stand against hate:

https://twitter.com/MsEntropy/status/1197460596226174978?s=20 It’s moments like these that remind us that there is still so much work to do in the fight for racial, cultural, and religious equality.   

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