Sen. Harckham: Statement on Growing Crisis at Syracuse University Regarding Racism

Peekskill, NY – New York State Senator Pete Harckham released the following statement today regarding the growing crisis at Syracuse University involving racist acts and fears of violence:

 As a State Senator—and the father of a Syracuse University undergraduate—I find the recent incidents of hate speech, racial taunting and threats of violence on the Syracuse campus frightening and wholly despicable. Right now, students are looking for strong action from the university’s leadership, knowing that circumstances will only worsen without it.

 But rather than take bold action in these matters, Syracuse’s chancellor and the campus police, in my opinion, have responded with tepid measures to address this growing crisis.

We all know colleges and universities should be places where all students feel safe and welcome in a nurturing environment in which to learn. We also know that hate can only exist in an environment that allows it to grow. That is why I’m calling on the New York State Police to investigate all the incidents of hate speech and racial taunting at Syracuse. Additionally, I’m calling on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to examine fully the postings of the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto and the threats of violence.

In the meantime, the chancellor needs to institute diversity, sensitivity, and inclusivity training for all students, faculty and staff immediately. The chancellor should then form an advisory group of students based on the demands of students now protesting the college’s inaction. Also, the chancellor should meet with those students personally, not through intermediaries or staff.

Finally, Syracuse University must conduct a strong self-examination through a series of direct discussions, panels and forums to address why hate is ongoing on its campus. Without looking at itself in the mirror, the university will not make these issues go away.

Until then, I am standing with the students in the #NotAgainSU movement because this is a campus that needs all of the support it can get right now.


State Senator Harckham represents New York’s 40th District, which includes the towns of Beekman, Pawling and the village of Pawling in Dutchess County; the towns of Carmel, Patterson and Southeast, and the village of Brewster in Putnam County; and the city of Peekskill, the towns of Cortlandt, Lewisboro, Mount Pleasant, New Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers and Yorktown, the town/village of Mount Kisco, and the villages of Briarcliff Manor, Buchanan, Croton-on-Hudson, Pleasantville and Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County.