Syracuse University To Punish Students Who Don’t Sufficiently Confront ‘Wokenings’

By D.P. 08.14.20

Syracuse University may soon punish students who fail to intervene in what the university dubs ‘bias-motivated’ incidents, a recent dispatch from the school’s ‘chief diversity and inclusion officer’ suggests. 

The university’s student code of conduct “has been revised, based on [student] input, to state that violations of the code that are bias-motivated—including conduct motivated by racism—will be punished more severely,” writes Keith Alford on the school’s website:

Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:

We are witnessing a pivotal moment of change for our country. There is an unprecedented acknowledgement of the devastating impact of anti-Blackness and systemic racism, and newborn hope that hearts and minds are changing with peaceful protests and fierce calls for action.

Our Black community and allies are demanding change—and rightfully so. We have seen our #NotAgainSU students, as well as Jewish, Indigenous and other students of color, describe their lived experiences at protests, on social media and via other platforms.

We reject all acts of hate, but we can’t address each one with just words. What we can and must do is the collective work necessary to confront it every time. Any act of discrimination or harassment experienced on campus should be reported to the Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion and Resolution Services.

Today, I am writing to share some of the latest updates to the commitments we made to our students, including those representing #NotAgainSU and our international, Jewish and Indigenous students. I recognize and appreciate all of our students for raising the issues that resulted in these Campus Commitments. These are issues that, now, the entire world is addressing:

  • The Code of Student Conduct has been revised, based on your input, to state that violations of the code that are bias-motivated—including conduct motivated by racism—will be punished more severely. The University also revised the code to make clear when bystanders and accomplices can be held accountable. The code will be prepared and distributed for students to sign in the fall.”

The New York-based school “also revised the code to make clear when bystanders and accomplices can be held accountable,” Alford continues, implying that the university may soon begin punishing students who don’t sufficiently confront such incidents when witnessed. 

It is unclear what motivated the code of conduct changes, though Alford in his post implies that the recent wave of Black Lives Matter-led activism across the country may have been partially responsible. 

“There [has been] an unprecedented acknowledgement of the devastating impact of anti-Blackness and systemic racism,” the diversity officer states, arguing further that “while we have made progress in recent years and months on our campus, we still have much more to do in addressing and eradicating racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination and hate.”