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A screen shot of the Facebook group titled "Union of White Cornell Students."

March 18, 2016

Aided by White Nationalist Groups, Union of White Cornell Students to Release Demands, Host March

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Two anonymous students from the Union of White Cornell Students claim that the group will release demands to Cornell administration within the next few days and eventually organize a march of white students.

In an interview with The Sun on Wednesday, the students called the union a “civil rights group” with over 140 members. The students asserted that they also plan to host a white students’ march and initiate a speaker series.

While the two students declined to provide their full names, citing concerns for their safety, they were joined on the phone call by “external supporter” and white nationalist Andrew Auernheimer — commonly known online as “Weev.” Auernheimer corroborated his identity by tweeting at The Sun from his account, upon request during the interview.

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Screenshot of Andrew Auernherimer’s tweet to The Cornell Daily Sun’s Twitter account.

The Union of White Cornell Students first received public attention after posting an open letter on its Facebook page on March 3 describing their group as “a community of white students who wish to preserve and advance their race.”

In a March 17 interview with The Sun, conducted online on the UberConference platform, the two anonymous students and Auernheimer said they feel a need to secure the safety of white students on campus.

“I am anonymous right now because I am afraid of my fellow students and the direction they are going,” said one of the two anonymous students, who identified himself during the interview with the username Billy Jessup. “Some of these folks are a little too motivated to be aggressive towards white people.”

They also said that part of the union’s mission is to combat the demands Black Students United delivered to the administration in November. Those demands include renaming the Cornell Plantations and creating mandatory coursework for all students on systems of power and privilege.

“Right now the administration has been receptive to BSU. We want them to come back from their earlier statements,” said one of the anonymous students, who said he was a sophomore in the School of Industrial Labor Relations and was identified during the interview only by a phone number with a 603 area code. “We want the Cornell Plantations name to stay as is. We want BSU disbanded and more fair dialogue about the issue of race.”

The group also criticized what they called BSU’s attempt to promote a program of “racial reeducation,” pointing to BSU’s calls for a diversity course requirement and increased diversity in Gannett Health Service’s resource center staff.

“They want to have black therapists at Gannett to ensure that they can understand minorities, because they don’t feel like they’re understood,” one of the anonymous students said. “There are not just whites [at Gannett currently]. We find this absolutely ludicrous. Present me metrics on… how [black therapists] would understand your plight in a different way.”

Responding to the claims made by the anonymous students, a representative from BSU said, “Until members of the Union of White Cornell Students reveal themselves, their opinions about our demands, our organization and our race are not of consequence.”

In response to questions regarding the group’s legitimacy and anonymity, the students said members of the union choose to remain anonymous and meet secretly in small groups because they are concerned for their safety.

“Since we’ve started people have been trying to discredit us,” one of the anonymous students said. “They don’t want to believe that a voice like ours could exist on such a liberal campus with such a liberal bias.”

The anonymous students claimed that the union is made up of between 140 to 170 members, with 20 to 30 graduate students and undergraduates from at least six undergraduate colleges at Cornell. While the group plans to deliver demands to the Cornell administration soon, the union has not had any contact with Cornell administration yet and is not officially registered with the University, according to the students.

In November of last year, 31 other “White Student Union” Facebook pages appeared, claiming to represent groups from universities around the country. While many of these pages received support the same white supremacist website, The Daily Stormer, that is sponsoring Cornell’s union, several were exposed to have no credible link to the campuses where they originated.

Addressing the legitimacy of these groups, Auernheimer conceded that some of the White Students Unions had received little support from students on campus, but called others were “very real,” adding that Cornell’s union has the support of many student members.

The anonymous students also said that the Cornell campus will soon recognize the group’s legitimacy when the union organizes a “march of white students and white civil rights activists” with financial and logistical support from The Daily Stormer.

Auernheimer said The Daily Stormer has provided the union with a $500 grant and said that he intends to be one of the speakers in the lecture series the group aims to initiate.

“[The Daily Stormer] is involved in a number of outreaches to white students unions, a reporter posts on Daily Stormer forums, and after some sort of communication we provide financial support sometimes,” said Auernheimer, who has previously written for The Daily Stormer. “So we’re providing a small grant to the white students union at Cornell, and I provide logistical assistance and I’ll be a speaker.”

The two anonymous students said that the union’s formation and open letter have received mixed reaction on campus, adding that despite significant criticism, many students have reached out to the group through their Facebook page to address the group’s aims and intentions.

“A lot of people have reached out to us through the page and said this is a dialogue that we need to have,” one student said. “Even if they don’t support white activism they do believe that the concerns that we have are legitimate.”

The students also said that the group originally tried to work with student organizations to organize a speaker series, claiming that they have previously and unsuccessfully attempted to convince the International Students Union to sponsor journalist Milo Yiannopolous.

ISU has refuted this claim, saying that the members of their executive board have not had any contact with the Union of White Cornell Students and the group does not plan to collaborate on a speaker series, according to an ISU executive board member.

“ISU stands in strong solidarity with protecting and upholding the interests and representation of minority communities including the international students community at Cornell,” the representative said. “We are strongly against any forces that threaten to hurt or undermine the pluralist fabric of this campus.”

The anonymous students on the call denounced being labeled as a “hate group” and said the unions’ members are not racist. Instead, they described themselves as “just very concerned white students.”

“We’re not considered minorities. We’re considered privileged, and slowly there has been this dialogue of minorities that they need to have certain rights,” one anonymous student said. “They don’t have rights already? I’m sorry, I must have misunderstood. But when it comes to me it’s a different story, isn’t it?”

The students and their external supporter stressed that their group is legitimate and its proposed projects imminent.

“This is coming, this is going to happen, there’s nothing you can do about it,” one student said. “White people are fed up with being treated like a minority. Do you understand that?”