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April 26, 2016

Petition: Cornell University Must Sever Ties with Afrika Bambaataa

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Troi Torain, former radio station disc jockey, has circulated a petition demanding that the University expunge the work of Afrika Bambaataa — Cornell Hip Hop Collection’s first visiting scholar — from its archives, in light of allegations of child molestation levied against the artist.

“It is incumbent upon the University to immediately address these allegations,” said the petition filed via Charge.org. “Until these claims have been definitively and without equivocation resolved,”

As of Monday night, the petition had gained over 170 signatures of its target 200.

Torain told New York Daily News that he believes the University has not responded appropriately to the allegations against the musician.

“Just because these allegations were made by men of color doesn’t mean you can ignore them,” he said.

The Cornell Hip Hop Collection acquired an archive of Bambaataa’s work in 2013, and a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities will allow the archive to be catalogued and preserved, according to a University statement issued April 21.

Cornell has announced that administrators are aware of the allegations, but maintain that Bambaataa’s contributions to hip-hop are “indisputable.”

“[His] archive will remain one of many in the Cornell Hip Hop Collection, which exists to preserve and make accessible the artifacts documenting the rise of hip-hop into a global cultural movement,” Cornell’s statement said.

Four men have come forward saying that Bambaataa sexually abused them while they were in their teens, according to the New York Daily News.

Ronald Savage, a New York judicial delegate who first accused Bambaataa of molestation, said the University’s maintenance of the archives would be promoting child harassment, the Daily News reported.

“If Cornell [retains] anything from Bambaataa, that’s like it is telling the world it supports child molesters,” Savage said.