After 18 days, student protesters at Syracuse University have ended their sit-in at an administrative building on campus. Part of the decision was based on the growing support for and recognition of the cause from student groups, faculty members and alumni, according to Vani Kannan, a first-year Ph.D. student who’s a member of THE General Body, which organized the protest. Students also decided the sit-in was no longer an effective way to get the further assurances they were seeking from the chancellor. "We decided to change tactics," junior Danielle Reed said. "This is not the end of our demands or our pressure on the administration."
The sit-in started on Nov. 3, when the student group presented administrators with a list of grievances that criticized university decisions related to support for minority students, sexual assault victims and mental health services, among others. The group demanded more transparency and student input on campus decisions.
Last week, Chancellor Kent Syverud apologized for the way some previous decisions were communicated to students. The same day, the university listed actions the administrators had agreed to take to meet some of the students' concerns. Negotiations with administrators had been on pause this week after regular meetings during the first two weeks of the protests. Talks resumed Thursday afternoon with a meeting with Bea Gonzalez, dean of University College and the liaison between the students and the chancellor, but no further negotiations took place.
Students and supporters on the faculty were asking the chancellor to sign a Good Faith Commitment Contract with six main concerns that students feel hadn’t been addressed yet. They also asked for a non-retaliation agreement so that students, staff and faculty involved in the protests wouldn’t face any punitive actions. The group is still asking the administration to agree to both, Kannan said.
In a statement on the university website, Syverud and Gonzalez said they're committed to continue working with members of THE General Body. "I want the University community to know I remain fully committed to continuing these conversations and working to make Syracuse University the kind of campus where everyone feels welcome and respected," Syverud said.