Syracuse announces improvements to security, student support

Syracuse announces improvements to security, student support
Laura Ly/CNN

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud released a letter to the university community Monday detailing his plans to improve campus security and well-being after a spate of racist incidents plagued the campus earlier this month.

While a student was arrested last week in connection to some graffiti and four students were suspended in connection with using a racial epithet against a fellow student, many of the reported events still remain under investigation and suspects have not yet been identified.

Syverud says campus improvements will be made to campus security, student well-being, and campus engagement. He hopes to have these changes in place by the time students return from Thanksgiving break on December 2.

The campus security improvements include the immediate deployment of 19 new residential community safety officers, installing new security cameras in stairwells, elevators, exterior locations and common spaces, and having public safety officers work increased shifts while classes are in session.

University administrators hope to support their students’ well-being by doubling the availability of health, wellness and counseling professionals, and extending the hours of offices dedicated to serving students, such as the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Disability Cultural Center and LGBT Resource Center.

New webpages for the school’s Department of Public Safety and for their “Campus Commitment” to improving their school community are also planned.

Syracuse students staged protests and a multiday sit-in at the school’s wellness center after the university was slow to respond to the racist incidents, ranging from derogatory graffiti against Asian, black, and Jewish people to hateful verbal assaults against a fellow student to reports of a “white supremacist manifesto” being circulated. University administrators have said that the alleged manifesto sent by the AirDrop app “remains an unsubstantiated rumor.”

Some of the protesters had proposed 19 recommendations to the university administration, and last week Syverud said he agreed to sign 16 of them. He suggested “minor revisions” to the three others.

The hateful incidents have not been limited to targeting students.

A Friday message of support from Syracuse University’s chancellor and vice chancellor has identified a faculty member who was the target of hate speech as Genevieve García de Müeller.

“We have offered our solidarity and support to her privately,” the message states.

García de Müeller, an assistant director of writing, tweeted last Tuesday about an anonymous email she received that targeted her as a Jewish person. Last Wednesday, Syracuse’s Department of Public Safety announced an investigation into the anti-Semitic email threat, but did not yet name García de Müeller.

The following day, García de Müeller posted a statement on Twitter, saying she has not really left her house and wants to get back to her normal routine soon.

“It’s been a nightmare but it was vital for me to show my community and every student of mine that we have to fight back in the face of hate,” García de Müeller wrote.

CNN’s Mirna Alsharif, Rob Frehse and Eric Levenson contibuted to this report.