Buffalo, NY - Just as Governor Cuomo says New York State is an inclusive refuge welcoming anyone with post election concerns, now SUNY faculty members have put out a letter urging professors at Buffalo State and other campuses to help students feel safe and respected.
Tuesday night was a seemingly quiet night on the Buff State campus. But with a diverse student body here and at other SUNY campuses around the state, there is an awareness that open discussion and debate after a contentious election can quickly go elsewhere.
As Buff State Academic Achievement Center Director Aimee Woznick puts it, "While we recognize the importance of free speech and having multiple perspectives represented on campus, we first need to make sure that our students feel safe."
That's the guiding theme of a letter now being circulated from the Equality, Inclusion, and Diversity Committee of the SUNY Faculty Senate. It specifically notes that students should know they can trust faculty members to listen to their concerns and treat them with respect while keeping classrooms and campuses safe and welcoming. Also that faculty must stay aware by keeping in touch with students and colleagues and act decisively when confronted by hateful, intimidating, or violent behavior.
2 On Your Side spoke with students about the letter to faculty. Student Alexis Grant says, "The fact that they're willing to reach out and bring everyone's attention to it...is very comforting."
While JP Vilnals points out, "It provides a safe space for residents and all the students here on campus for sure."
Even a controversial recent headline in the college newspaper with a Ku Klux Klan reference spurred discussion.
Student Greg Gelz says, "Obviously with the newspaper and what happened there...it's a hot button issue."
Sanam Sheth adds, "It's a good way to see like that faculty cares and that faculty is willing to like keep an eye out for all of us because there are situations where we do feel threatened."
Woznick makes this final point, "When students are exploring these difficult subjects, naturally tensions can arise. But we wanna make sure that as professors and as staff members, we're able to negotiate and facilitate those difficult conversations in a way that everybody is included."
Also Buffalo State will hold a post election discussion as they call it for students, faculty, and staff. It's set for this coming Thursday 11/17 at 12 Noon at the Bulger Communication Center on campus.