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Syracuse University commits $5.6 million to diversity initiatives


Syracuse University will allocate $5.6 million for diversity and inclusion initiatives and hire 16 staff members to work on improving diversity programs, the university announced Friday.

The diversity and inclusion efforts are part of a series of initiatives Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Keith Alford detailed in a campus-wide email. The initiatives are being implemented in response to demands from student groups and black student-led movement #NotAgainSU.  

At least 21 racist, anti-Semitic and bias-related incidents have occurred at or near SU since Nov. 7. #NotAgainSU submitted 19 demands for Chancellor Kent Syverud to sign. International and Jewish student groups also presented demands to Syverud.

More than 110 students and nearly 300 SU faculty and staff have volunteered to serve on campus engagement committees, which SU launched in December to implement students’ demands. The deadline for signing up for engagement committees has been extended to Jan. 28 to encourage others to participate. 

The email outlined short-term and long-term changes to the SEM 100 first-year seminar, including the development of a “more intentional curriculum” that focuses on privilege and power, Alford said.  

A University Senate ad hoc committee is charged with developing a new, credit-bearing course for fall 2021 that incorporates student and instructor suggestions. Another ad hoc committee is working to create a required three-credit course on inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility based on syllabi from similar SU courses.

The university also finalized a contract with a roommate-matching software company to develop a housing portal for first-year roommate selection starting the fall 2020 semester, Alford said. The platform will offer students choices for selecting roommates based on matching criteria such as mutual interests and schedule compatibility.

Syverud announced the university signed a contract with My College Roomie, a student roommate matching software company, during his 2020 Winter Message on Jan. 13. 

The university has hired 74 residential community service officers and 12 supervisors to provide 24/7 staffing in residence halls. Over half of the officer positions are held by people who identify as part of an underrepresented group, the email stated. Last semester, the university committed to hiring 84 officers.

The university also installed security cameras in public spaces in Day Hall. SU administrators, residence hall staff and student leaders are working to determine how to install cameras while maintaining the privacy of residents, Alford said. 

SU is also working with indigenous students to form a committee to establish permanent recognition of the university’s presence on the Onondaga Nation’s ancestral lands and address on-campus spaces for indigenous students. The university will have more information regarding these efforts in February, Alford said. 

SU officials are also assessing the security of Hillel with the organization’s leadership, Alford said. The Academic Affairs team is working with the campus community to improve requesting academic accommodations for religious observances.

The university will spend $400,000 to expand the Center for International Services. SU is also currently interviewing candidates for four additional staff therapist positions at The Barnes Center, Alford said. 

First-year students will also complete a diversity, equity and inclusion online module through EVERFI in addition to programs on safe sex and alochol.

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