To the Editor: We, the student leaders at SUNY-ESF, are writing with concern regarding the recent article published in Syracuse.com titled "SUNY ESF faculty gear up for vote of no confidence in President Quentin Wheeler." The article directed readers to misleading information which suggests the impending ESF vote of no confidence may be partially motivated by diversity issues that have galvanized students, faculty and staff at other colleges and universities around the country. The link "heard on other campuses throughout the country" directed viewers to an article titled "Racial Climate on Campus: A Survey of College Presidents." This link details the role that racial tension has played throughout universities and colleges country-wide, and how students have rallied around one another regarding these important issues.
Diversity, equity and inclusion continue to be a university priority for ESF. Progress regarding the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty, staff and students has been made under the leadership of President Wheeler. This progress has been most visible through the creation of the College-Wide Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a near-completed College Diversity Strategic Plan, and President Wheeler's personal commitment to a diverse faculty, staff, and student body at ESF. The article's reference to "overall unrest when it comes to diversity on campus" being a motivating force behind the proposed vote of no confidence is not accurate as referenced in this article. It mentions "complaints of the same nature," and while ESF has had specific and well-organized protests and events related to diversity and inclusion, not once have these events led to students or faculty calling for a vote of no confidence. Furthermore, it is important to note that while votes of no confidence at many universities are supported by students, faculty and staff, the impending vote of no confidence at ESF has been almost exclusively faculty and staff motivated. In fact, the Undergraduate Student Association (USA) and the Graduate Student Association (GSA) have been generally satisfied with the way in which President Wheeler's administration has responded to student concerns over the past two years. Those calling for the vote of no confidence on campus have not approached leaders of USA, GSA, or The Baobab Society (ESF clubs focused on cultural celebration and diversity advocacy) in regards to diversity and inclusion issues on campus. We urge your readers to consider this letter to better understand the factual motivations and drivers behind the ESF vote of no confidence. The student government organizations of USA and GSA will continue to engage the administration in meaningful discussion about how best ESF can move forward as a campus community throughout this process. Tyler Shields Graduate Student Association President Ben Taylor Undergraduate Student Association President Kristine Earley The Baobab Society President