Chancellor admits to delay in informing Syracuse University community about racist graffiti

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse University’s Chancellor is admitting to a delay in informing the campus about racist graffiti found inside a student residence.

Last Thursday, racist graffiti was found on the fourth and sixth floors of Day Hall. Students alerted authorities and the school’s Department of Public Safety has been investigating the incident.

In a letter to the campus community, Chancellor Kent Syverud writes: “It’s clear that the members of the leadership team should have communicated more swiftly and broadly. I am disappointed that didn’t happen in this case.”

At a student meeting Monday night attended by NewsChannel 9’s Adrienne Smith, SU students expressed disappointment in the University’s communication and transparency.

Syverud also updates the community on the investigation into the source of the graffiti. He claims that several people have been interviewed and Syracuse’s Department of Public Safety and the Syracuse Police Department are following up on possible leads.

Monday night, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the New York State Police to offer its resources to the investigation.

In Syracuse Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo characterized the comments as “anti-African American, anti-Asian.”

Chancellor Syverud’s note to the campus community is as follows:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I am writing this morning to express my serious concern over the racist graffiti and vandalism found in Day Hall. I also want to address our response to this wrongful act, the status of the investigation and our focus right now.

First, I want to speak to the University’s response to this incident. It’s clear that the members of the leadership team should have communicated more swiftly and broadly. I am disappointed that didn’t happen in this case. While, I appreciate the personalized and immediate care our leaders provided to Day Hall residents directly impacted by this incident, repercussions are far-reaching and are a concern to us all.

Next, I want to provide an update on the investigation, which remains active at this time. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) was first alerted to the racist graffiti and vandalism on the 4th and 6th floors of Day Hall on Thursday, November 7. In partnership with the Syracuse Police Department, DPS initiated an investigation immediately. To date, the investigation has included interviews with students and evidence collection. DPS has followed several leads and continues to work aggressively to find the individual or individuals responsible. Additionally, the New York State Police’s Hate Crimes Task Force has offered its support and we are collaborating to make full use of its resources. I anticipate this investigation will continue to be fluid. While I want to ensure we maintain the integrity of the investigation, I have asked my team to be increasingly timely in sharing updates, particularly as new facts are discovered.

Over the last several days, Bobby Maldonado, DPS chief, Marianne Thomson, dean of students, and Keith Alford, chief diversity and inclusion officer, have met multiple times with students directly impacted. This includes a Day Hall meeting where students expressed their concerns and sought action and support. It also includes the conversation that occurred last night during a student organization’s previously scheduled meeting. These meetings will continue today and members of my team will be on hand this evening at the Residence Hall Association Open Forum.

I have asked them to be open and receptive to hearing and acting on constructive feedback. It’s our shared responsibility to make Syracuse University a welcoming, safe and inclusive learning and living environment for all.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Kent Syverud

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