Student Association Spearheads University-Wide Fundraiser
In response to national protests and growing awareness surrounding issues such as systemic racism and police brutality, the Student Association (SA) has launched the Syracuse Racial Justice Fundraiser to support organizations in the Syracuse community doing important work for racial justice. This University-wide fundraiser is open to anyone but specifically targeted to University students, administrators, faculty, staff and alumni.
The fundraiser grew out of outrage at the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, countless others and the subsequent nationwide protest movement, says SA President Justine Hastings ‘21. “There’s a new level of awareness,” she says. “These events caused people that normally might not think twice about these issues to sit back and reflect about how they participate in complicity.”
For many, that meant signing petitions, anti-racist reading, and looking for ways to support organizations that do anti-racist work. Hastings saw it as an opportunity to help bridge the gap between Syracuse University and the Syracuse community. “There are a lot of organizations in this community doing great work for racial justice,” she says.
SA has partnered with six local organizations—the Syracuse Black Lives Matter Chapter (funds shared with CuseYouthBLM and Raha Syracuse), OGs Against Violence, Unchained, the Black Leadership Coalition of Central New York, Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse and Syracuse Chapter of the National Action Network—as well as Syracuse University’s Our Time Has Come Scholarship program, which supports Black and Latino/a students.
Hastings says the mission of the fundraiser is “to serve the city of Syracuse and Central New York to reduce the violence that has afflicted our community through grassroots outreach and boots-on-the-ground effort to reach out to people and bring positive change.”
The fundraiser website includes information on the organizations with donation links for each. Donations made go directly to the organizations. “By organizing and promoting this, we’re providing resources for people interested in ‘doing something,’ to promote racial justice,” says Hastings. “For some, that may be making a financial donation. For others, that may be reaching out to see if they can join or volunteer.”
In addition to the community organizations, SA has included the Our Time Has Come Scholarship program, which supports Black and Latino/a students at Syracuse University through scholarships, mentorship, and professional development. “The purpose of this scholarship program is create possibilities for Black and Latino students at Syracuse University,” says Hastings, herself an OTHC Scholar. “Because of past injustices and systemic racism, there are gaps in terms of economic accessibility for students of color. OTHC recognizes that. Right now, the program is supported primarily by Black and Brown alumni. Including it in this fundraiser gives it another audience.”
As a means to promote both the fundraiser and the issues that spurred it, Hastings is hoping the SA will host a panel discussion in late August or September featuring leadership from the organizations included. “The hope is to provide an outlet for them to discuss the work they do and help raise awareness about the issues and what’s being done in the local community.”
To support the fundraiser or learn more, visit sa.syr.edu/fundraiser/.