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With Coronavirus On Horizon, Continued Student Occupation At Syracuse University Uncertain

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) - Student protesters at Syracuse University would not say if they will continue occupying Crouse-Hinds Hall during spring break next week. This comes as the university has suspended on-campus classes for the rest of the month due to concerns about the coronavirus.

#NotAgainSU, a black-led protest, has been occupying the building for weeks, demanding changes to how the university responds to issues of racism on campus. Protesters want to continue negotiations with administrators, after meetings lasting 14 hours over four days last week, failed to reach a resolution. They have three nonnegotiable demands that if met, could bring an end to the protest.

One, according to Ronald McGuire, a civil rights attorney and counsel to the protesters, is that the chancellor and university officially admit that they denied students food, medical and hygiene supplies, at the beginning of the protest last month.

“The administration needs to acknowledge what they did and they need to acknowledge why they did it," McGuire said. "Why they did it is two words; white supremacy. They profiled these students and they treated them in a way that white protesters were not treated.”

McGuire said access to food was weaponized and used to break down demonstrators' resolve to nonviolently protest.

"It’s a violation of fundamental human rights," McGuire said. "I’ve heard an administrator acknowledge it verbally, but it has not come specifically from the chancellor.”

Two other nonnegotiable demands protesters want is academic amnesty and for graduate students to be able to return to their teaching positions when their strike ends.