Graduate students occupy a unique role within the university system, co-existing as students and employees who teach a large portion of the undergraduate courses. We have a substantial stake in the reputation and future of SUNY-ESF as an institution because we are building a network of colleagues that we will collaborate with for the rest of our careers. Our financial security, health and safety are deeply interwoven with the decisions made by the SUNY-ESF administration.
Unfortunately, the turmoil within SUNY-ESF leadership over the last five years, now capped with a pandemic, has left many graduate students with little trust in the SUNY-ESF administration. Graduate students are left out of the room during crucial conversations; when we express our strong concerns at the few public opportunities we have, we are frequently met with a defensive or condescending response that suggests we are being difficult or demanding, rather than our true mission: advocating for ourselves and others because we care deeply about SUNY-ESF as an institution. We are asked to blindly trust that administrative decisions will protect us, despite not having a seat at the table during important decision-making conversations and having our concerns rebuffed time and again.