Syracuse University Rocked by Repeated Racist Incidents: Saturday Night Racist Verbal Attack on College Place

“Last night, one of our African American students reported being subjected to a verbal racial epithet from a group of students and visitors to our campus.” – Chancellor Kent Syverud

Community-wide support pours in for Syracuse University Student Protest

Racial slurs against black and Asian people were written on two floors in Day Hall, a Syracuse University dorm building. According to The Daily Orange  “Ceiling lights in bathrooms on Day Hall’s sixth floor were pulled out and put in a toilet on Wednesday night. The N-word was written on part of the light, at least one mirror on the floor and on garbage cans. A slur against Asian people was also written on a bulletin board on Day Hall’s fourth floor.”

While the reports of the racist graffiti occurred in early November University Residence Hall Association, a student group called for more transparency. As word spread about the incident, the university’s reaction was called into question by students for not sharing the information. There was a visceral reaction on campus as students began to organize to show their disdain for the acts of hate.

Timeline of Syracuse University’s Response

Wednesday Night November 16th
Racist graffiti was written on the 4th and 6th floors of Day Hall.

Thursday November 7th
Department of Public Safety was notified of graffiti.

Saturday, November 9th
A DPS detective and Day Hall RA confirm that racial slurs were written on both floors in a meeting with residents.

Sunday November 10th
Chief Diversity officer Keith Alford, DPS, Chief Bobby Maldonado and Dean of Students Marianne Thomson meet regarding the incident.  

Monday November 11th
Syracuse University issues a public statement regarding the graffiti.

Syracuse University students descended on Barnes Center at Archbold Gymnasium and have been holding a sit-in since Wednesday, November 13th in response to racist graffiti found in the residence hall.

Barnes Center at The Arch

Volunteers mobilized to supply the protesters with food and water. Local area political leaders and activists went the Barnes Center to hear their grievances, and in some cases lend their support. State Senator Rachel May and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli are just a few out of many who’ve gone to the site to assess the situation and lend their support. Faculty and other organizations including local former NAACP President Van Robinson are speaking out, as racial terror gripped the campus.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh issued a statement denouncing the act, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calls for an investigation.

Roger Misso, candidate for Congress candidate attended the sit-in on November 14th and issued these remarks on Facebook:

“Late last night, I attended the sit-in at the SU Barnes Center.

‪Solidarity is important to me, but this isn’t about my campaign – I went to make sure our students are safe.

‪You don’t need to be black to say that racism of any kind is wrong & that we can do better.

Things you won’t see: pictures or videos of me as a candidate co-opting this space or grabbing the microphone.

The power belongs to the students in that room.

It’s up to us to recognize & respect that power – and to amplify it. #NotAgainSU

On Friday November 15, 2019 Congressional candidate and SU alumna Dana Balter joins protest

Dana Balter joins SU protest

“Over the past week, four separate racist incidents have targeted Black, Asian, and Jewish students at Syracuse University. Bigotry and hatred have no place on a college campus or in our city. Tonight, I joined the third night of the #NotAgainSU sit in at the Barnes Center at the Arch.

As a Maxwell alumna, a Syracuse resident, and a candidate for Congress, I thoroughly condemn these racists acts, and stand in solidarity with students, faculty, and staff who are working to ensure that SU is a welcoming, inclusive community.”-Dana Balter

Barnes Center at The Arch

The students involved with the sit-in at Barnes Center issued a list of request which were presented to Chancellor Kent Syverud;

What they’re asking for:

  • The expulsion of any students involved in Day Hall vandalism.
  • The creation of a twice-annual open forum for students to communicate directly with the Board of Trustees.
  • Curriculum reform to better educate students on questions of diversity.
  • Mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff.
  • A zero-tolerance policy for hate speech among students.
  • A “same race” option for roommate selection on the student housing application.
  • Hiring of additional counselors that better represent student body and marginalized communities.
  • $1 million investment in long-term curriculum changes that address issues of diversity and racism.
Chancellor Kent Syverud’s video message to Campus and Community

Chancellor Syverud

On Friday November 15th a Video Message  from Chancellor Kent Syverud to Campus and Community was released. The following is text of his video message.

Good evening students, faculty, staff, Orange families, alumni and friends.

I am concerned, disgusted and outraged by recent multiple hate speech incidents. The incidents targeted our African American, Asian and Jewish communities. They have occurred on and near the Syracuse University campus.

Let me be clear:  These racist and antisemitic incidents are hate speech.

We do support free speech at Syracuse University for our students, faculty and community. Our Orange values, however, require that we be emphatic about the difference between free speech and hate speech. These incidents are hate speech and not free speech.

When these hateful acts—at Day Hall, the Physics Building and on Walnut—produce dangerous and hostile environments, it is the responsibility of our university—and our community— to step up.

I am stepping up. Our students at the Barnes Center have stepped up. Many other members of our community, including students, faculty and staff from all over campus, have stepped up. I ask each of you to step up as well.

All week, I have been meeting with law enforcement leaders, and listening to students, faculty and staff. I met today with participating students in the Barnes Center, with International students, and with students at Hillel. I heard about the painful effect of these incidents on our students and our community. I discussed concrete steps the University will be taking in response to student recommendations, and I will be providing further detailed responses next week.

I have also been working hard with the Department of Public Safety. DPS is working with the Syracuse Police Department and the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force. They are investigating multiple incidents rigorously and appropriately to identify those responsible for these heinous acts so that we will hold them accountable. We are also working with our Student Experience team to provide a safe environment for our students to peacefully protest.

If you care about our students, if you care about our University, and you have information relevant to identifying the perpetrators of these incidents, I urge you to speak up.

I am grateful to our students who are putting forward tangible solutions to some of the most pressing climate issues confronting our community.

I am committed to the difficult conversations we are having on our campus.

I am committed to keeping students, faculty, staff, families and alumni promptly informed, both about incidents as they occur and the University’s response.

And I am committed to upholding the values we aspire to as a University. These Orange values include respecting all people of all backgrounds at all times, in our residence halls, in our classroom buildings, and on our streets.

I cannot promise you that in these fraught times in our country, there will be no more hateful incidents in our community. But, I can promise that our University will respond in the future transparently and quickly, and will clearly assert our Orange values of inclusion and of rejecting hate.

I thank you.

Saturday Night Racist Verbal Attack on College Place

Saturday night on November 16th an African American student was called a racial slur, participants included a fraternity, which led Chancellor Kent Syvrud to suspend all social activities for fraternities for the semester. Occurring on College Place Syracuse Police has “substantial evidence” of what happened. The university acted swiftly to perhaps contain a situation that appears to be growing. The following is a  Statement from Chancellor Kent Syverud regarding the activity the occurred on Saturday night.


Chancellor Kent Syverud’s Swift Response to Saturdays Racist Verbal Attack on College Place

Sunday, November 17, 2019, By News Staff

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Last night, one of our African American students reported being subjected to a verbal racial epithet from a group of students and visitors to our campus. The location was on College Place. This report of an affront to our student’s—and our whole community’s—safety and well-being is the latest incident of several against Jews, Asians and African Americans. I am deeply angered by these events, including this latest incident.

All night, University leaders have been addressing these incidents. As to the College Place incident, Department of Public Safety (DPS) Chief Bobby Maldonado and his team have assembled substantial evidence, including security camera video, eyewitness accounts and interviews. The individuals involved have been identified and will be held appropriately accountable to the Code of Student Conduct and to the full extent of the law. We are working with the Syracuse Police Department, and we intend to bring this investigation to a swift and successful conclusion.

Some of the individuals involved are members and guests of a Syracuse University fraternity. That fraternity has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

More importantly, it is my view that the safety and well-being of students on our campus requires stronger steps. As of 4 a.m today, I have directed the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs to suspend all social activities of fraternities on this campus for the remainder of the semester. While only one fraternity may have been involved in this particular incident, given recent history, all fraternities must come together with the University community to reflect upon how to prevent recurrence of such seriously troubling behavior.

DPS also continues to actively investigate the other incidents, particularly those involving racist graffiti and vandalism. A generous University donor has offered a reward for evidence that leads to the apprehension of the individual or individuals responsible for these heinous acts.

More details about the reward and further updates will be provided later today.


Chancellor Kent Syverud