Message to Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz

Below is a letter written to Dean Kantrowitz and the Chancellor by a source who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Hello Dean Kantrowitz,

I first want to thank you for taking the time to notify the student body on the reasoning behind merging the Counseling and Advocacy centers. I think it was a shock to the student body when first reading the news and your email provides a little bit of insight. As I am away from Syracuse for the summer, I am one of the majority of the undergraduate community that will not be able to attend these meetings, but wanted to provide some feedback that I hope will be taken into consideration.

I am a rising senior at the university. I had first sought counseling with the center when I struggled immensely with adjusting to college life as a freshman. This past semester I was utterly devastated when I was turned away from the Counseling Center’s services when I had asked about the likelihood of being able to meet with a counselor more regularly. I was completely disrespected by the staff, especially by the receptionist at the front desk and the counselor I used to occasionally meet with. They recommended to “see a doctor in the community” when I do not have a car on campus, I have an enormous 18-19 credit course load and pay an incredible amount of tuition and refuse to pay extra for campus counseling. More importantly, I had attempted to reach Cory Wallach, the director, to inform him of these events and nobody from the Counseling Center had ever returned my phone calls. It was utterly upsetting that a center, who’s job it is to help the students, would act so immaturely and be very lackadaisical to help out a student who was in need. To this day, the problem has not been solved and upon my return to the university this fall, I will continue to get to the bottom of this problem.

While processing the events of what had happened, I realized that a flaw of the Counseling Center–that deserves a little more attention than it has in the past–is that there is too small a staff to serve an enormous population of students who are equally entitled to these services. The Counseling Center uses the excuse that there are too many students seeking help and there are “only 17 staff members.” When calling to reserve an appointment, most students have to wait between 1-3 weeks to get seen for 45 minutes. There is also the occasional conflict, in which counselors are not very considerate of a student’s rigorous class schedule. No student deserves to feel rejected to a service that is paid for with tuition because there is too small a staff to serve the needs of a student.

In the new merging of the Counseling and Advocacy Centers, I ask you to consider the possibility of adding more staff to the Counseling Center as a way of reducing the heavy traffic of students who are equally deserving of Counseling Center services. I think we can both agree that the university does not want to diminish these services from students with this new merging in place, but make the Counseling Center more accessible. With only 2 counselors who are trained to counsel students who have been sexually assaulted, it will be very difficult for the new structure to be ‘enhanced’ in the way that you would hope it to be. With the addition of more staff members to counsel and advocate for students who have been sexually assaulted, the traffic of students who seek these services will decrease enormously and more students will actually be satisfied with the counseling services that Syracuse University offers. I am sure there are multiple factors to why 2 Advocacy Center staff is an ideal number for you, but Syracuse has an enormous student body with many sexual assaults that go overlooked and eventually forgotten. A staff of 19 to accommodate a population of 10,000+ students, who are equally entitled to counseling, is wrong. I hope you reconsider the possibility of increasing center staff to better accommodate students and assure them that the center is very accessible with this new structure in place. Should students experience an assault that deserves immediate attention, they do not deserve to wait up to 3 weeks for an appointment.

I have the uppermost respect for when a university is planning to make changes to strengthen the Syracuse community, but this new merging is a topic that is very sensitive to many students and deserves the most care and attention.

Thank you very much for your time in reading this email.”

RE Listenting Meetings

Paul, Erin, and I want everyone to know that we support and respect each of your decisions about whether or not to attend the first Listening Meeting held by RRK on June 23rd. We urge you to do whatever is the right choice for YOU. Also, please feel free to post why you are or are not going on this page as we welcome and value each one of your thoughts, feelings, responses, and opinions.

Email to Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz

Below is an email sent to Rebecca Kantrowitz from Meaghan Greeley regarding the announcement of Listening Meetings to take place on campus. Published with Meaghan’s permission. Thank you for making your voice heard Meaghan!

Dear Rebecca,

Thank you for your email. While I believe that your recommendation was not a reflection of an intention to harm survivors, I am not trusting that these listening sessions are intended to heal those who have been hurt and disenfranchised by your decision. It is clear to me that the Chancellor and your office are not truly intending to listen with an open mind to those who have asked to be heard. In fact, from your email it seems that the Chancellor will not even be in attendance. Please correct me if I am misinterpreting your email. Furthermore, these meetings will do nothing to create a working solution if your office AND the Chancellor are not coming to the meetings with an open mind. An open mind would include promising to consider all options, including reversing the Chancellor’s decision. The messages that I received from this email are: the Chancellor will continue to ignore, avoid, and deflect the SU community’s disappointment and re-victimization due to his decision; and that these meetings are meant solely to placate those who are hurt, since the administration is not willing to consider reversing it’s decision. As a social work student I have learned the importance of advocacy. The skills and knowledge that I have obtained through the social work program have allowed me to develop critical thinking skills when it comes to policy change and this attempt by your office appears to be; what my professors would call “smoke and mirrors”. It is not a good use of my time and energy to attend a meeting where those who need to listen will not be in attendance and where those who are attending come to the meeting with a closed mind. Frankly, I expect more from this institution! I look forward to hearing your response to my concerns. -Meaghan Greeley
MSW Candidate 2017 Syracuse University
David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics

Syracuse Answer Coalition: Why did Syracuse University’s new chancellor close advocacy center for sex assault victims?

Maddie Horrell, Collin Chambers, Valerie Rodriguez, and Leyla Falhan published this piece on syracuse.com today, on behalf of Youth and Student ANSWER at Syracuse University:

“There are several reasons why so many students, faculty and staff are upset and troubled by this decision. One of the primary reasons is the manner in which the decision was made and implemented. It was announced with a window of only five days, and during a time when the vast majority of students are away from campus and the city. It is hard not to see that move as an attempt to prevent and/or limit any campus-wide discussion about or resistance to the action.”

Continue Reading…

http://www.syracuse.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/06/why_did_syracuse_universitys_new_chancellor_close_advocacy_center_for_sex_assaul.html#incart_opinion

Email from Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz RE: Listening Meetings

Many of you may have received an email from Rebecca Kantrowitz regarding a series of Listening Meetings she plans to hold throughout the summer months and into the fall semester. Below I have attached the email for those who did not receive it and would like to read it.

June 19, 2014

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:
Many of you have shared your thoughts and feelings about the recent decision, which was made based on my recommendation to Chancellor Syverud, to integrate and align the services of the Advocacy Center with the Counseling Center and the offices of Student Assistance and Health Promotion.
I know there are campus community members and other thoughtful individuals who don’t agree with this decision. Today I want to briefly explain why this change was made and let you know how we plan to do a better job of listening and responding to your questions and concerns.
Under the new structure, we have designated the Counseling Center to serve as the primary point of access for students seeking services related to sexual violence. The center has 17 trained staff members who provide advocacy and counseling services to students impacted by sexual and/or relationship violence 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
This designation was made because the Counseling Center is the place on campus that can offer students access to completely confidential and privileged services under federal guidelines and state law, similar to services offered at community resources, including Vera House and the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center. This distinction is important because privileged services afford students the maximum privacy under law. We believe this is the right decision that will provide clarity to students affected by sexual violence and offer them a full sense of control and the freedom to make choices that are right for them the moment they reach out and seek support. At the same time, the University will continue reporting non-identifying, statistical data regarding incidents of sexual violence to the federal government and make that data publicly available.
While the Advocacy Center is no longer a stand-alone entity, the services it provided will continue and be enhanced under the new structure. I am pleased to inform you that Janet Epstein and Jill Sneider from the Advocacy Center have accepted positions in which they will continue to provide students advocacy and education services. Janet will be an important asset in the Office of Student Assistance and Jill will be in the Office of Health Promotion continuing to support student groups that do the critical work of sexual assault and relationship violence prevention education on campus.
I want you to know that in meetings, phone calls, and emails I, along with the Chancellor, have heard both positive and negative feedback from members of the campus community. I value this feedback greatly. As this new structure is implemented, I want to continue to hear your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions on how it can be shaped to best serve our students and address the suggestions and concerns we have heard. With this in mind, I will be hosting a series of listening meetings for the campus community in June, July, and August, and into the fall semester.
I invite you to join me at the first Listening Meeting, this Monday, June 23, from 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m. in the Panasci Lounge at the Schine Student Center. I know there will be many who won’t be able to attend this initial meeting so I will report back to you with a summary. Also, please feel free to share your thoughts with me directly by email at rrkantro@syr.edu or by phone at 315-443-4263.
Sincerely,

Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz
Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs

Response to Listening Meetings

Below is a response to Rebecca Kantrowitz’s most recent email from a source who wishes to remain anonymous.

“I would seriously consider boycotting the meeting. There are two criteria that must be met for such a meeting to have any meaning: (1) the chancellor needs to be there, and (2) there must be a commitment from him to listen with an open mind, promising to consider all options, including reversing his decision.
The meeting announced by RRK meets neither criterion. In fact, it preserves the status quo by enabling the chancellor to continue hiding from the controversy, while sending the message that his administration has no intention of reconsidering. The only purpose of the RRK meeting will be for SU administration to use it to “prove” they are listening. After everything that has happened during the past few weeks, it is an insult that they think they can actually fool people into thinking the meeting will be of any consequence. Frankly, attending such a meeting would be playing right into their hands. Unless, of course, you can come up with a strategy that derails the administration’s strategy.”