There were allegedly a slew of racist incidents that took place at Syracuse University last fall, which has prompted officials in the school to create new punishments for students accused of a number of offenses, according to the Daily Wire.
Jonathan Turley, attorney and professor at the George Washington University Law School, said that the new rules were implemented after a group known as NotAgain SU demanded that students who witness or were present when racial incidents occurred on campus be expelled from the institution. Though the school’s first diversity and inclusion officer, Keith Alford, did not accept expulsion as an appropriate punishment, he did say that there would be changes to the rules that would punish student bystanders.
“The Code of Student Conduct has been revised, based on your input, to state that violations of the code that are bias-motivated—including conduct motivated by racism—will be punished more severely. The University also revised the code to make clear when bystanders and accomplices can be held accountable. The code will be prepared and distributed for students to sign in the fall,” Alford wrote in an email.
Turley raised the point that the uncertainty around “how silence or inaction will be judged” may “prompt many to guarantee compliance by speaking or acting to avoid even the chance that they might be subjected to a highly damaging bias charge.”
Not only are students subjected to punishment for inaction, but the school has decided to move forward in installing cameras throughout the campus.
“The concern raised by the Syracuse rule is that there remains controversies over vague universities standards on bias or race motivated violations including microaggressive language or actions. Recently, a student writer at Syracuse was sacked for simply questioning the basis for claims of institutional racism. What is viewed as bias-motivated speech for some is viewed as political speech by others. The new rule would suggest that even students who do not agree that an incident is ‘bias-motivated’ must still act to avoid scrutiny or punishment. Students could feel an obligation to prove that they are not racist by immediately and openly opposing such acts, lest they could be next to be accused,” Turley wrote.
Turley noted that the new announcement by the university is punishing those who do not say anything is a form of compelled speech, as it “would now require speech and action to avoid possible discipline.”
The Daily Wire reported that the new punishments are being implemented despite no news on the outcomes of “any investigations” into allegedly racist behavior at Syracuse. One such allegation came from a black woman who claimed that a group of fraternity members yelled racial epithets at her. Four young men from the fraternity were suspended even though the fraternity’s national chapter confirmed to The Daily Orange that “hours of voluntary interviews with authorities” found that “no member of Alpha Chi Rho directed racial slurs at anyone.”
The one other incident featured an alleged white supremacist document being sent to students while in a campus library, but it turned out to be a hoax. While there have been a number of allegations of racism at colleges and universities across the country over the past ten years, the vast majority have turned out to be hoaxes.
Syracuse is not the only school demanding that rules be changed on the basis on race. Black graduate students at Stanford University demanded that the university donate $25 million in the effort to fight racism. Among the demands was that black postdoc students be guaranteed job placement after they graduate, insisting that racism is a pandemic in the U.S.