Student concerns are our concerns

November 12, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

Last Monday (Nov 3), a coalition of student groups called THE General Body held a rally and marched to the administration building, Crouse-Hinds. There they presented a list of grievances, demands, and solutions to the leadership of the university and began a sit-in.

The GSO Executive Board believes both the students and the administration have dealt with each other in good faith. Minor incidents aside, overall both sides have treated the other with respect in the negotiations and discussions they have held. The responses from the university’s leaders, while not perfect, are the start to many dearly-needed dialogues on common problems.

The interests of the THE General Body align in many ways with the broad graduate student body. The GSO is supportive of the changes they demand that are in line with the wishes of the entire graduate student body. However, as the graduate student government on campus, we have a responsibility to represent all of our students, including both those participating in the sit-in and those who are not. Any process of negotiation and allocation of significant resources to student concerns must incorporate the elected, representative student government. We continue to represent your interests in all decision-making processes at the university, including ongoing ones.

We are pleased to report that the GSO has made progress in finding solutions and beginning conversations on many of the problems facing students in the past years. These include:

  • Improving student access to decision making processes, including access to university committees through direct representation and new student advisory boards
  • Raising minimum stipends given to Teaching and Research Assistants 7% last year, with ongoing talks for increases this and next year

We also support conversation and action about many of the issues brought forth by THE General Body, including:

  • Creating a process to address student grievances and clarify existing grievance processes.
  • Improving diversity training within orientation programs for students, faculty, and staff.
  • Improving and creating programs that work to prevent sexual assault, educate the community, and provide comprehensive care to victims of sexual assault
  • Construction or renovation of the student center to centralize student services and create a center for student community on campus.
  • Prioritizing library funding, giving students the resources they need to make Syracuse a preeminent research institution.
  • Increasing transparency of university finances.
  • Improving mental health services, with attention paid to increasing staffing to provide services to students.

We have compiled a more detailed accounting of the GSO’s stance on the demands of THE General Body here.

Both the Graduate Student Organization and the Student Association are committed to representing all students fairly and accurately.  We cannot do this without your voices. The GSO has office hours Monday through Friday. Please feel free to always email or Tweet us if you have ideas or concerns about the university, graduate student life, or the GSO itself. The GSO can only get better if we hear from you. Come to the GSO Senate meetings – the next one is Wed, Nov 19 at 5:30pm in Life Sciences 105. The GSO also engages directly with the Chancellor and his leadership team to solve many, many other problems. To give input into the university’s new planning process, Fast Forward, use their website.  They are hungry for ideas and input! The Chancellor’s Workgroup on Sexual Violence Prevention, Education, and Advocacy is currently gathering information and will hold an open meeting tonight at 7:30pm in Schine 304ABC. And the Express Yourself forum has produced many workgroups which are addressing diversity and inclusion concerns.


GSO Executive Board

Patrick Neary, President
Sam Leitermann, Internal Vice President
Vantiel Elizabeth Duncan, External Vice President
Sarah Ledford, Comptroller
Jasmine Vickers, Recording Secretary
Jose Muller, Financial Secretary