Nancy Cantor

A Trendy Little Thing Called Kent-Bashing

If you live in Syracuse, you’ve probably heard of THE General Body, who are making headlines for sitting on the floor of a building until their list of demands, topping 40 pages, are met.

A skip card, which you can totally use on this next paragraph if you like. I don't mind. See?

A skip card, which you can totally use on this next paragraph if you like. I don’t mind. See?

(Skip this paragraph if you already know why they’re angry, or don’t care why they’re angry and want to jump to the point of the article.) Maybe they’re upset that Chancellor Syverud complimented students on working and holding jobs, because this suggests that work is voluntary and somehow demeans the plight of students who don’t have enough aid money – this complaint appearing in the “transparency” list: article 3.5.4 – or perhaps it’s because professors and students don’t have enough diversity training, and that all students should be required to take 3 credit classes on diversity; this demand, is taken directly from the “diversity” list – article 4.1 and 4.2.. They go on to demand an apology for bringing the university advocacy center to a different building as well.  I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly what they want now because since I’ve started writing, they’ve added another two pages of  demands, which are getting increasingly more radical.  If you want to read it, I’m sure you can find it somewhere online. I won’t link it here because I doubt you actually want to read over 40 pages of their manifesto and demands.

(Welcome back!) The sentiment of the group, which completely defies common sense, is that former chancellor Nancy Cantor was a better leader of the university because of her recruitment policies, which favored increasing diversity on campus, and that current chancellor Kent Syverud is somehow a bigot for wanting to improve SU’s academic rating. This ranking lately hovers in the 40’s or 50’s nationwide, depending on whom you ask.

Nancy Cantor, clapping at something. Photocred: The Post Standard

Nancy Cantor, clapping at something.
Photocred: The Post Standard

But I’m not as interested as talking about the demands – other than to point out how ridiculous it is for these students to refuse to leave until their demands are met, considering the fact that some of the demands call for immediate modifications to university buildings – as am in tackling the trendy new culture of Kent-bashing, which will not die.

Fact: college students like to party, or at least enough of them do to rank Syracuse as a top party school. Related fact: college students aren’t widely known for their foresight.

Chancellor Kent Syverud condemned the ranking, likely because he knew it was terrible PR for alumni, and would not help current students find jobs after graduation. But not everyone agrees:

Photocred: The Post Standard

Chancellor Kent Syverud Speaks. Photocred: The Post Standard

Some students have made the assentation that graduating from the number one party school will prove to prospective employers that they have the work-hard-play-hard mentality. Following the logic of these students, and the numbers of the national rankings, you would be showing employers that you party roughly 40 times as much as you work. Personally I wouldn’t be putting that on my resume.

Regardless, it seems like everything Syverud has done has been treated as an attack on the SU way of life, and all problems at the university have somehow become entirely Syverud’s fault. Castle court closes: the ‘Cuse way of life is in danger, save ‘Cuse!” (A waste of a hashtag if ever there was one) A robbery occurs off campus: It’s Kent’s fault, he should bear personal responsibility for what happened because DPS was too busy busting parties – a fairly illogical claim if you ask me.

He is even blamed for the closing of Castle Court, formerly the happening outdoor party spot where students could enjoy both underage drinking and Syracuse’s lovely weather. This was the delayed result of Nancy Cantor’s actions, not Syverud’s.

Photocred: Socraticcomunity.com

Photocred: Socraticcomunity.com

A contributing factor to the problem is the, “too long, didn’t read,” mentality where one student has beef with the Chancellor, posts a whining Facebook status about how ‘Cuse is under attack, and then people start sharing it and reposting it without actually reading what was said. It perpetuates band-wagon Chancellor bashing, and unites students in a seemingly noble crusade against “the man.”

Occupy Protestors block foot traffic, ruin productivity, spoil everyone's nice time

Occupy Protestors block foot traffic, ruin productivity, spoil everyone’s nice time

Aside from the fact that occupy protests are lazy by nature – trespassing, taking up space and getting in the way of productive members of the community until they become so annoying that their opponent has to cave – my issue here is that THE General Body purports to be the voice of SU. The group has well under a thousand followers on social media, 80 members who met with the university staff, only a few dozen participated in their previous march against Syverud, (again, back to the band-wagon Chancellor bashing) and only 30 are taking up space in the Syracuse administrative building. These numbers are pretty insignificant when you take into account the fact that there are over 20 thousand students at SU.

The University is not without issues that merit attention, but the administration has already opened up channels for student negotiation and promised to deal with concerns brought to their attention. This protest drowns out the sensible requests, and poisons the well for constructive negotiations.

THE General Body speaks for themselves, not for the university, and certainly not for me.

In Review:

  • It both defies common sense and demonstrates extreme hypocrisy to for such a small, opaque group to appoint themselves the voice of the students against what they describe as an opaque administration
  • I can’t believe I have to say this, but Kent Syverud is not omnipotent, and thus cannot possibly be personally responsible for everything that goes wrong on and off campus
  • Hating the Chancellor when you don’t understand the issues at hand isn’t cool or trendy, nor is it a sign of a productive educational environment: it’s a sign of attention seekers drowning out the voice of their fellow students

By Cole Ellenbogen

What do you think?