Below is an email response from the Chancellor that was sent out to students.
July 1, 2014
Dear Orange Friends:
As we enter the heart of summer, which gives us all time to reflect, I have been thinking a lot about two tough issues.
The first is the integration and alignment of the services of the Advocacy Center with the Counseling Center and the offices of Student Assistance and Health Promotion. I know change is hard and this has been a tough change for some students and campus community members.
This change was made for the most important of reasons: to provide the best possible service to students affected by sexual violence. This includes providing completely confidential and privileged services under recent federal guidelines and state law that allows survivors to make choices that are right for them as they seek support. This new structure is the same as other similar and well-respected centers in Syracuse, including Vera House and the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center.
I have heard from students, faculty, staff and other supporters of the Advocacy Center and I respect and value their passionately held views about its importance. I do not intend to revert to the previous structure, but I do want to preserve within the new structure the positive contributions the Advocacy Center made to our campus community. To ensure this occurs, I will be appointing a Chancellor’s Workgroup on Sexual Violence Prevention, Education and Advocacy, which will include students, faculty and staff representatives. The workgroup will provide Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz, senior vice president and dean of student affairs, and her staff with ideas, suggestions and proposals for how aspects of the Advocacy Center’s programs and services can be better integrated within the new structure. While I want this effort to begin right away, I expect the workgroup’s activities won’t fully begin until everyone returns to campus in August.
The second issue I have been reflecting on is freedom of speech. I’ve learned that when people are passionate about issues we (including me) occasionally say things that annoy or offend others. Yet it is vital, at a great university, that people become passionate about ideas and issues and that we hear from those with different, passionately held views. For that reason, I think we should be very careful before trying to punish “offensive” or “annoying” speech. The best response, I believe, to speech that offends or annoys us is more speech, hopefully civil and responsible. In any event, during this July 4th week, I want you to know I am a believer in free speech and I hope to model that in the future.
Chancellor Kent Syverud