SYRACUSE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Syracuse University is investigating a white supremacist manifesto that’s allegedly circulating on campus, as students continue to protest several recent incidents of bias.
Campus police are working with state police and the FBI to try and figure out who spread the hate-filled manifesto, which appears to be a copy of the manifesto of the mass murderer in Christchurch, New Zealand. Syracuse officials say they do not believe it is a credible threat, and they do not believe it is connected to several recent racist attacks that have prompted a student sit-in.
Some students reported the document was being anonymously “airdropped” to students’ laptops on Monday night in the library, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.
“It has been a little scary,” said freshman Jacob Summers. He’s from Warren County, N.J. and said the the campus has felt eerily empty for the last few days.
“I’m used to seeing dozens of people out and there’s just nobody,” Summers said.
The student sit-in is going on its seventh straight day, protesting the school’s response to at least seven incidents of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti on campus this month.
One protester Bauman spoke with asked to remain anonymous.
“It is already very hard to feel safe on campus, knowing what is expressed can occur,” the student said.
As for the manifesto, police said they aren’t taking any chances.
“We want to find the author of that manifesto that put that online and we also want to make sure no there are no credible threats against the university or anywhere in our city,” Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner said.
City and campus police have stepped up patrols around campus buildings as a result.
“The FBI is fully aware of what’s going on at the university,” said FBI Agent Peter Fitzgerald. “We’re providing every assistance that’s requested.”
Over the weekend, a black student said she was verbally harassed by a group of fraternity members, claiming they yelled racial slurs at her. That prompted school Chancellor Kent Syverud to suspend the fraternity involved and suspend social events for all fraternities through the end of the semester.
“It is the collective responsibility of our fraternities and our whole university to reflect on how to prevent this very troubling behavior in the future,” Syverud said in a video message.
But protesters said the problem is much bigger than Greek life.
“Those things are solutions to the direct action that is occurring. What we are asking for and what this movement is asking for is solutions to thing that have been happening for years,” an anonymous protester said.
The chancellor has responded to some of the protesters demands, and has agreed to invest at least $1 million into a new curriculum on diversity issues.
To see a full list of the university’s responses to specific student demands, click here.
The following is the letter Syverud sent to students:
Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:
A series of deeply troubling incidents involving hate speech directed at African American, Asian and Jewish students have occurred in our community over the last 10 days. Two groups of students—those who have held space in the Barnes Center since Nov. 13 and international students—have expressed concrete concerns related to the environment for diversity and inclusion on our campus.
Each group has met extensively. Each group has assembled lists of concerns that have been submitted to me. I have met several times with the student groups (as have many University leaders) and have promised a specific response to these concerns. The University’s response to each concern is captured in this chart.
The chart lists each concern, in the students’ words, then summarizes the University’s response. Where appropriate, the chart also indicates (by name where appropriate) the responsible University official or group that will work to implement the response.
University Commits Significant Resources to Prompt Security and Diversity Steps in Five Prioritized Areas:
The University believes that all of these responses are important and that some are more urgent than others to address and complete quickly. We are by this response immediately committing extensive resources, including more than $1 million for curriculum development, to implement these responses over the next year. We view the most urgent responses to be completed quickly are (1) extensive additional resources to assure greater safety for our students; (2) clarity in the Code of Student Conduct so that all have clear understanding of the expectations and consequences for incidents like those in the past 10 days; (3) decisions about SEM 100 so that they are implementable in time for the 2020 fall semester; (4) facility decisions that support a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students including international students and students of color; and (5) hiring additional staff in significant areas of concern.
As Chancellor, I take very seriously these immediate priorities, and commit to promptly achieving them, as well as to supporting the other important measures in the responses.
University Commits to Clear Communication:
The discussions these past 10 days have resulted in productive work. In most cases, the work has continued extraordinary efforts already in process by students, faculty, staff, and alumni volunteers and board members over the past two years. One clear conclusion from discussions over the past days is the need for better communications and transparency about programs, resources and other efforts that are already in place or underway. The University has created and filled the position of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and is strengthening the staffing and support for programs of that office; in addition there are existing and new bodies, including the Council on Diversity and Inclusion and the Inclusive Leadership Assembly, that have been hard at work over the past year. We commit today not just to continuing to spending resources and accelerating the implementation of plans for those efforts but also to timely and regular communication of work that has been completed and is ongoing.
Each of us at Syracuse University must share accountability for assuring this community is a welcoming and supportive environment for people of all backgrounds. As noted in the responses, University administrators are expected to lead in many areas and to produce concrete results. For a significant group of concerns, meaningful change requires the participation and support of the schools, the faculty, the University Senate, and student groups and representatives as we go about the work necessary to implement solutions. This is particularly the case for changes to the curriculum, which are so important to many of the students who have participated in these discussions. It will be essential for all to work with faculty and the University Senate on these issues.
The Board of Trustees is and has been committed to the core values of diversity and inclusion at Syracuse University. The Board, led by Chair Kathy Walters, does engage in periodic updates on the University’s diversity and inclusion efforts. As the University implements these responses, the Board will focus on progress in this area.
We also need our students to engage as partners in this work in a constructive manner. This includes identifying particular individuals to continue the work commenced in the last few days as representatives, through student governance bodies, as decisions are made and implemented in accordance with these responses. The University requests that the Barnes participants and international students also identify representatives so that the work can continue. Many other student leaders will also be key to successfully addressing these climate issues.
There will be a Community Forum—Safety and Student Concerns on Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The forum will be held in Goldstein Auditorium at the Schine Student Center.
As we undertake this important work, we face real challenges here and we operate in a fraught national climate. I ask all who are Orange to reaffirm our values at this University—our values of inclusion, openness to learning from others, and responsibility as citizens to care for each other and our whole community.
Chancellor Kent Syverud
An online fundraising campaign to sustain the protest was drawing support from Syracuse alumni, some of whom wrote in comments that they were ashamed of what was happening.
A private school in central New York, Syracuse University enrolls nearly 23,000 students, of which about 8% are Hispanic or Latino, 7% are black and 6% are Asian, according to the university website. More than half of students are white.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)