Syracuse University was only the second university in the US to establish a Disability Cultural Center, and has produced notable scholars in the field of disability studies, including Nirmala Erevelles and Liat Ben-Moshe.
However, the experiences of both undergraduate and graduate students at Syracuse indicate that the administration needs to do much more to make disabled students feel included.
Students roundly criticized counseling services at the university, telling us that the appointment process was both difficult and slow, and as a result, many students avoid using services offered by the Barnes Center at The Arch. One student says, "I can tell you I’ve never met someone who was thrilled with their experience."
In terms of supporting students with accommodations, one student says that they "expressed accessibility concerns to my college and department chair, and was ignored until I had much larger problems, and they still are failing to address them. The culture is 'shut them up, and let’s move on.'"
Syracuse University has not one, but two different online report forms for reporting students in distress. Members of the community can submit reports to the Student Outreach and Support Team for students who are "exhibiting behaviors that are concerning or worrisome." Reports can also be submitted to the Threat Assessment and Management Team (TAMT) for threatening behavior, which according to TAMT, can include "social isolation, change in academic performance, unexplained absenteeism, anxiety or uncertainty about family/relationships/situations, lack of energy or chronic fatigue, bizarre behavior, suicidal thoughts, displays paranoia, loss of job/income/relationship, and depression or nervousness" among other ambiguous behaviors. We recommend that Syracuse University consider how conflating mental illness with threatening behavior is both stigmatizing and spurious, and contributes to the types of situations that killed Jordan Neely. We encourage Syracuse University to revisit its threat assessment policies and revise its current reporting guidelines.
Negative Student Experiences:
Share your thoughts with other students
The Center for Disability Resources is really bad. It took me two months to finally get adjustments because my coordinator canceled meetings, failed to follow-up, and did not take notes on my needs. I now have a new one who tried to tell me what she “knows,” rather than understanding my lived experience. For example, the “reduced distraction environment” for testing was MORE distracting than if I stayed in the large classroom. I was told I was wrong and needed to jump through hoops again to essentially be interrogated over why I felt that way because they “knew” better. The testing center’s “Smile! You’re on camera!” signs also disgust me given the mistrust that autistic, ADHD, and others feel everyday from others. A passive aggressive sign in each testing room is cruel.
They say while other colleges and universities across the country have experienced intermittent racial incidents and controversies, they occurred regularly at Syracuse. The problems were like a slow burn that went back decades and ultimately turned into a conflagration of anger, frustration and disappointment...
The incidents included a black student being harassed by white fraternity members while leaving a party; swastikas drawn in the snow; the N-word written multiple times in stairwells, bathrooms and other common areas of dorms; slurs against Asians shouted out of dorm room windows and directed at passing students; and a white supremacist manifesto posted on a Greek life online discussion forum.