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SUNY Chancellor: Brockport situation ‘not acceptable,’ visit forthcoming

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Students protest recent “racial issues” at the SUNY Brockport campus on Thursday, February 13, 2020. (News 8 WROC Photo/Kayla Green)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — State University of New York Chancellor Kristina Johnson described the tension on the SUNY Brockport campus as “disheartening” and “not acceptable” in a letter to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren.

Johnson, who was replying to a February 5 letter from Mayor Warren, said the issues resolving the climate at Brockport are “of great concern.”

This letter arrives on the same day that SUNY Brockport students staged a sit-in and protest due to recent “racial issues” on campus.

SUNY Brockport’s diversity developments have made headlines lately after the controversial firing of its Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Cephas Archie. Dr. Archie told News 8 that his firing was performance related. On the night of his firing, students on campus protested the administration’s decision to fire Dr. Archie.

SUNY Brockport officials then held a town hall event on campus to discuss the matter.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren was critical of the college’s decision to fire Dr. Archie, taking to Facebook to say, in part, “It’s unfortunate when people that work toward diversity and inclusion across the collegiate spectrum also face it themselves.”

Earlier this week, Dr. Sandra Vazquez, SUNY Brockport’s Diversity Recruitment and Retention Specialist, resigned from her position.

In Dr. Vazquez’s resignation letter, she wrote in part:

“Over the years the climate has had its challenges. And more recently, the impact of the events that have occurred will make it nearly impossible to recruit and retain underrepresented employees.”

Additionally, just last week, a College at Brockport employee filed a charge of discrimination against the university with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Johnson says she plans to visit Rochester in the near future and said she would like to meet with mayor Warren “to work together to better serve the citizens of Rochester through access to quality and affordable higher education.”

The university announced earlier this month that it would be formally changing its name back to SUNY Brockport, from the current The College at Brockport title, later this year.

SUNY’s letter to Mayor Warren:

Mayor Warren’s statement:

“I welcome SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson’s response to my letter and her sincere desire to address the pressing issues at SUNY Brockport. I am heartened to know that a plan has been put into place to address the school’s racial climate and lack of representation that profoundly affects students and faculty of color. However, now all parties must work in concert to execute this plan.

I am also aware that SUNY Brockport’s students, who are the most important in this matter, are continuing to protest the circumstances at the college making the need for action even more critical.

I look forward to meeting with SUNY Chancellor Johnson when she visits Rochester to further our conversation on how we can collectively assist SUNY Brockport’s students and all students throughout the SUNY system.”

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