SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — As the Syracuse University community deals with a series of racist and anti-Semitic incidents, its close neighbor, SUNY ESF, is feeling the impact, too.
The school sits in the shadow of SU and the ESF interim president says his campus is not insulated from what’s happening next door.
David Amberg tells NewsChannel 9, “We thought maybe a single instance, but they’re rolling out, so we’ve tried to get on it and provide almost daily, if not more than daily, communications focused on our concerns and what we’re trying to do to support, in particular, our students.”
He says it’s not just the proximity of the two schools to one another, but also that ESF students can and do take classes at SU and vice versa.
“It’s really opening an old wound and many of our students of diverse identities have been living this for a long time, so they’re very clear in pointing that out and that’s important for us to hear,” Amberg says.
A listening session led by students was held on campus Tuesday where school leaders were able to hear the concerns and issues among their students, faculty, and staff.
Since that session, Amberg and his executive team have been working on a concrete plan to address the issues raised and Thursday will present that plan at another forum to be held in the Gateway Center.
He says some of the issues raised deal with the sense of not feeling welcome in the community, “Which, in some ways, may be the actual goals of these kinds of events, unfortunately. They have some concerns about safety. We feel the campus is safe and we are doing everything we can to allay those concerns so they feel coming onto campus, comfortable going to class.”
That includes additional police presence provided by SUNY ESF, Syracuse University Department of Public Safety, and Upstate Medical University officers.
He says to support the emotional safety of those in the ESF community counseling services are being provided.
Also, Amberg has created opportunities for students to bring concerns directly to him during open office hours.
“One of the students said something that was really profound yesterday and that is we shouldn’t be foregoing our education to fight for our dignity, and I’m laser-focused on making sure that doesn’t happen,” he tells NewsChannel 9.
Amberg and his executive team hold daily meetings at 5 p.m. to look at the day’s events and determine appropriate actions.
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