Black Students at Cornell Issue Six Pages of Demands to End Campus ‘White Supremacy’

“Silence is violence.”

Black Students United issued six pages of demands to Cornell University administration, including President Martha Pollack and Vice President Ryan Lombardi, chiding them for fostering a campus culture of “white supremacy” and ordered them to get “on the right side of history.”

The letter begins with the expected scolding that everything non-black students and faculty at Cornell does is systematically racist:

We​ ​attend​ ​a​ ​university​ ​where​ ​our​ ​professors,​ ​who​ ​are​ ​by​ ​all​ ​accounts​ ​scholars​ ​in​ ​their various​ ​fields,​ ​undervalue​ ​our​ ​intellectual​ ​contributions​ ​to​ ​our​ ​coursework;​ ​where​ ​they​ ​teach​ ​that communities​ ​of​ ​color​ ​have​ ​little​ ​or​ ​nothing​ ​to​ ​offer​ ​than​ ​a​ ​brief​ ​honorable​ ​mention​ ​on​ ​their syllabus.​ ​We​ ​attend​ ​a​ ​university​ ​where​ ​our​ ​peers​ ​believe​ ​we​ ​do​ ​not​ ​belong​ ​here;​ ​where​ ​they decry​ ​the​ ​usefulness​ ​and​ ​necessity​ ​of​ ​affirmative​ ​action;​ ​where​ ​they​ ​claim​ ​we​ ​segregate ourselves​ ​because​ ​we​ ​lean​ ​on​ ​each​ ​other​ ​to​ ​survive.​ ​We​ ​attend​ ​a​ ​university​ ​that​ ​is​ ​obsessed​ ​with the​ ​optics​ ​of​ ​our​ ​black​ ​and​ ​brown​ ​faces​ ​but​ ​is​ ​indifferent​ ​to​ ​the​ ​justice​ ​we​ ​seek.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​not​ ​an indictment​ ​of​ ​white​ ​people;​ ​this​ ​is​ ​an​ ​indictment​ ​of​ ​a​ ​system​ ​that​ ​perpetuates​ ​white​ ​supremacy and​ ​shelters​ ​our​ ​peers​ ​under​ ​the​ ​warm​ ​blanket​ ​of​ ​white​ ​privilege​ ​-​ ​all​ ​the​ ​while,​ ​we​ ​are​ ​left​ ​to freeze​ ​in​ ​our​ ​frigid​ ​reality​ ​of​ ​racist​ ​epithets,​ ​essentialist​ ​curriculum,​ ​and​ ​apathetic​ ​governance.​ ​In post-racial​ ​America,​ ​our​ ​classmates​ ​call​ ​us​ ​niggers​ ​from​ ​their​ ​pickup​ ​trucks​ ​in​ ​broad​ ​daylight.​ ​In post-racial​ ​America,​ ​we​ ​are​ ​berated​ ​by​ ​airborne​ ​bottles​ ​on​ ​our​ ​own​ ​campus.​ ​In​ ​post-racial America,​ ​we​ ​are​ ​told​ ​we​ ​have​ ​a​ ​chip​ ​on​ ​our​ ​shoulder.​ ​We​ ​are​ ​called​ ​everything​ ​but​ ​our​ ​name. Above​ ​all​ ​else,​ ​in​ ​post-racial​ ​America​ ​we​ ​are​ ​bombarded​ ​by​ ​the​ ​deafening​ ​silence​ ​that​ ​allows​ ​the centuries-old​ ​hum​ ​of​ ​white​ ​supremacy​ ​to​ ​grow​ ​louder.​ Silence​ ​is​ ​violence.

And then the demands pour in, one by one, insisting the school hire more black employees and force white students to go through identity indoctrination camps to learn how to overcome their whiteness:

We​ ​demand​ ​that​ ​all​ ​students,​ ​undergraduate​ ​and​ ​graduate,​ ​to​ ​have​ ​appropriate,​ ​ongoing,​ ​and mandatory​ ​coursework​ ​that​ ​deals​ ​with​ ​issues​ ​of​ ​identity​ ​(such​ ​as​ ​race,​ ​class,​ ​religion,​ ​ability status,​ ​sexual/romantic​ ​orientation,​ ​gender,​ ​citizenship​ ​status,​ ​etc.).​ ​We​ ​want​ ​this​ ​coursework​ ​to be​ ​explicitly​ ​focused​ ​on​ ​systems​ ​of​ ​power​ ​and​ ​privilege​ ​in​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States​ ​and​ ​centering​ ​the voices​ ​of​ ​oppressed​ ​people,​ ​assembled​ ​by​ ​professional​ ​diversity​ ​consultants​ ​and​ ​student​ ​leaders. Every​ ​Dean​ ​of​ ​every​ ​college​ ​should​ ​implement​ ​this​ ​requirement,​ ​and​ ​hire​ ​faculty​ ​to​ ​teach​ ​this work​ ​who​ ​are​ ​well​ ​equipped​ ​to​ ​do​ ​so.

The same goes for all employees of Cornell, as well.

The black student activists also demand that the ​Chi​ ​Chapter​ ​of​ ​Psi​ ​Upsilon​ ​Fraternity,​ ​Inc. be completely banned from campus because of its “racist legacy” and that the emptied house be handed over to black students as a “space​ ​for​ ​the​ ​people​ ​of the​ ​African​ ​diaspora​ ​to​ ​utilize​ ​for​ ​programs​ ​of​ ​any​ ​kind,​ ​in​ ​perpetuity.​“

The group​ ​demand​s several new positions to be created, including ​a​ ​Minority-Liaison​ ​at-Large​ ​in order that​ ​their “​marginalized​ ​perspectives” are represented. They also want two additional “psychologists​ ​and​ ​psychiatrists​ ​of​ ​color in​ ​the​ ​next​ ​two​ ​years” and “at​ ​least​ ​one​ ​more​ ​physician​ ​of​ ​color​ ​in the​ ​next​ ​four​ ​years.”

But wait, there’s more! Cornell must devise a plan to increase black enrollment on campus, create “an Anti-Racism Institute” where the “horrors of white supremacy” will be taught, and create a new position that “ensure[s] Cornell is supporting the local black community in Ithaca.”

We saved the best for last:

Currently,​ ​only​ ​faculty​ ​have​ ​the​ ​power​ ​to​ ​discipline​ ​students​ ​at​ ​Cornell.​ ​In​ ​order​ ​to​ ​increase student​ ​power,​ ​we​ ​are​ ​demanding​ ​the​ ​creation​ ​of​ ​a​ ​Student​ ​Honor​ ​Board​ ​who​ ​will​ ​oversee various​ ​judicial​ ​cases.​ ​Students​ ​should​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​direct​ ​say​ ​in​ ​the​ ​punishment​ ​of​ ​their peers.​ ​Student​ ​Honor​ ​Boards​ ​allow​ ​for​ ​the​ ​resolutions​ ​of​ ​student​ ​situations​ ​on​ ​a​ ​case​ ​by​ ​case basis​ ​that​ ​the​ ​university​ ​either​ ​does​ ​not​ ​have​ ​a​ ​mechanism​ ​to​ ​resolve​ ​or​ ​is​ ​too​ ​busy​ ​to​ ​resolve. Additionally,​ ​most​ ​honor​ ​boards​ ​use​ ​suspension,​ ​academic​ ​sanctions,​ ​and/or​ ​community​ ​service hours​ ​as​ ​a​ ​punishment,​ ​which​ ​allows​ ​the​ ​individual​ ​or​ ​party​ ​being​ ​punished​ ​to​ ​resolve​ ​their​ ​issue without​ ​leaving​ ​the​ ​school,​ ​and​ ​more​ ​importantly​ ​force​ ​them​ ​to​ ​contribute​ ​back​ ​to​ ​their community.​ ​The​ ​creation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Honor​ ​Board​ ​will​ ​work​ ​to​ ​restore​ ​student​ ​trust​ ​in​ ​Cornell’s judicial​ ​system​ ​and​ ​ensure​ ​justice​ ​in​ ​these​ ​cases.

But that’s to be expected from a group which touts, “Silence is power. Hate speech is not free speech. We will not waste any more emotional labor than we have already lost explaining basic human rights to your assembly. Stand on the right side of history Cornell. You will give us our time. We are reclaiming our time.”

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