February 19, 2002

Students Propose Community Actions for Campus Security

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Students gathered with faculty and administration to discuss bias-related incidents in a meeting that didn’t produce any easy answers.

“There is no inoculation against hate,” said Robert Harris, vice provost for diversity and faculty development. “If it was so easy, we would try to do it.”

Students did, however, express a number of specific actions that could be taken to improve campus safety. “We don’t know why it is that small things like adding sufficient blue lights haven’t been done,” said Edgardo Cortes ’02.

“I can walk from Collegetown to North Campus at one in the morning and not see a single police car,” said Funa Maduka ’04, minority representative of the Student Assembly.

William Boice, director of the Cornell Police Department (CUPD) agreed that there was a problem, saying that at times only three officers are on duty.

“If we get tied up at one incident on campus we could have two officers on that, and we might have only one on patrol,” he said.

Some students expressed anger at the University’s response to a January racial-bias incident where seven people in a blue Chevy pickup truck shouted ethnic and racial slurs at two students.

“Hunter Rawlings and Biddy Martin’s open statements didn’t say anything,” said Iris Bordayo ’02. “[They’re] telling us what we’re telling [them].”

The University has tried to respond to these incidents by organizing dialogs like this one. “Everybody in this room heard something that they need to do. There really was feedback,” said Kent Hubbel ’67, dean of students.

Others expressed frustration at what they considered a lack of action.

“While all of this is very good, my feeling is that this is all reactive,” said Leon Lawrence, director of multi-cultural affairs in the college of Art, Architecture and Planning. “What about preventing bias-related incidents?”

Some present were upset at the lack of statistics on bias-related incidents; others were skeptical about the North Campus initiative’s effects on diversity.

“The University created North Campus to solve an incipient segregation,” said Hubbel. “It was an attempt to create a common experience.”

“We have a mandatory recycling program, and they put up a sign that says ‘Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds,’ but they have no diversity program,” said one member of the audience.

Meanwhile, what to do about bias-related incidents on campus is still a question.

“I’ve heard the same things at so many different meetings,” said Susan Chavez ’03.

“Change is real, real slow, but it does happen,” said Ricardo Morales ’92, an associate director in the office of minority educational affairs. “I have hope that some of these things are going to change.

Archived article by Peter Norlander