Editorial Board

How Syracuse University can make a place for itself in the Syracuse-Onondaga County merger debate

Will Carrara | Contributing Photographer

The editorial board argues that Syracuse University has an important role in the debate about the Syracuse-Onondaga County merger proposal.

Syracuse University leadership should take a stance on the proposed merger between the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County when an official proposal for the merger is made public.

Chancellor Kent Syverud said in an interview with The Daily Orange that he doesn’t currently have a position on the potential merger, which would consolidate the city and county governments in addition to law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, courts and other services.

But Syverud added that when an “exact proposal” regarding the merger is made, he will determine whether the SU community’s reaction to the proposal warrants the university to take a position on it.

“…Should the university community in the process … suggest it’s important for Syracuse University to take a position on it, we will,” Syverud said. “But I haven’t done that yet.”

Until the university is able to announce its stance on the merger, it should continue to monitor the proposal and foster discussion around it. The university’s prominence within the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County gives it the potential to tilt the merger discussion, so until the administration is willing to pick that side, it can serve as a neutral party that encourages community engagement.

SU hosted a debate earlier this month in the Maxwell Auditorium that featured prominent community members from Syracuse and Onondaga County who have opposing positions on the merger. This debate was one instance the university took action to engage the greater community of which it is a part.

SU should continue to promote this discourse until there is a solid proposal at work for the merger, at which point administrators can designate the university’s stance with input from the SU community.

Syverud said he is “supportive” of elected officials who are working “in the interest of their constituents.” In the long term, the best way SU leadership can support the city and county is to take a stance on the merger proposal. But until it is able to do so with a substantive plan at hand, it is sufficient to support the community by being a place for conversation and debate.

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