Militant Journalism

SU students rally for consent, confront chancellor

On a sunny fall day, around 200 people—faculty, students, staff, and community members—gathered on the main quad on Syracuse University for a “rally for consent.” The rally, which was organized by The Campaign for an Advocacy Center, was called to protest the university’s swift closing of the Advocacy Center (AC), which provided crucial services for victims of sexual assault and relationship violence, helping to turn them into survivors and even advocates.

Several speakers at the rally took aim at the undemocratic nature of the decision and its enactment. The decision was announced on May 30, buried in a lengthy e-mail, and the AC was closed only five days later. It happened swiftly and during a time that students were out of town and unable to mobilize and respond.

Kelsey John, a PhD student at SU, told Liberation News that she came out to the rally because, “I care about the cultural climate of Syracuse and other higher ed institutions. I don’t like the rape culture, and more broadly, how decisions about student life are being implemented. I think it’s important for people to come together, physically and intellectually, on issues that are important to them.”

The closing of the AC has galvanized a new student movement. Today’s action was the latest expression of that movement, and it demonstrated a heightening of organization and determination.

After the rally, students marched down the hill to the administration building, chanting “This is what an advocate looks like!,” “Whose quad? Our quad!”, and “Patriarchy? Tear it down!”

Outside one of the administration buildings two of the rally organizers—Farrell Brenner and Becca Glaser—read several stories that had been posted online about the importance of the AC as a resource and a community.

Then, around 40 students stormed the building and marched up to the chancellor’s office. At first, we were told that the chancellor was not in. After some dialogue, it was revealed that he was in the building, he was just in a meeting.

Several different administrators tried to get the crowd to leave. When it became apparent that the students weren’t backing down, administrators tried to move protesters to another floor. It was a pure power play, and no one budged.

Finally, the chancellor appeared. Students presented him with a petition that had over 8,000 signatures, and several read comments that had been posted online.

The action showed the enormous potential for the development of a highly organized and militant student movement at SU. If you are interested in becoming a part of that movement, contact the Syracuse Answer Coalition at [email protected].

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