A small group of students gathered in front of Day Hall yesterday afternoon to rally for a safer Collegetown.
The crowd included members of the Cornell Women’s Resource Center Advisory Board, community educators from the Advocacy Center, Student Assembly representatives, and alarmed Collegetown residents and students. Some students were unhappy with the low turnout from the administration.
According to Anasstassia Baichorova ’05, a member of the Cornell Women’s Resource Center Advisory Board, when she tried to contact members of the Cornell administration she was informed that, “Dean [of Students Kent] Hubbell ’67 and Susan Murphy ’73 [vice president for student and academic services] wouldn’t join us today because they have a meeting at noon.”
Baichorova added that the whole point of the rally was for the “administration to give a public response to the letter that was issued” a week ago by the Resource Center.
The letter makes demands such as moving the Off-Campus Housing Office to Collegetown to make it more readily accessible to students, asking the University to pressure the City of Ithaca to conduct more sensitivity training for police, and asking the University to put together a list of recommended off-campus housing locations that includes comments from prior tenants.
The letter stressed the resource center’s beliefs that “it is time for the University to step in and take action on behalf of the large percentage of students who live off-campus.” Baichorova echoed this statement by saying, “everyone I talk to [from the administration] gives me a different answer. [They need] to tell us what what [they] are doing.”
Only a few minutes before the rally was to begin, Murphy made an appearance at the rally and spoke only to Baichorova, but did not stay for the entire event. The rally featured three speakers representing the student body at Cornell.
Erica Kagan ’05, president of the Student Assembly said, “what is being done and what isn’t being done needs to be addressed.”
She added that on behalf of the S.A., “We don’t see enough being done,” concerning the administration’s role in keeping Collegetown safe.
Josh Bronstein ’05, vice president of finance for the S.A., proposed the idea of “teaming up with the City of Ithaca to provide a database of off-campus housing,” and cited the success of a similar endeavor made at the University of Michigan. Bronstein said that the S.A. is currently working on “the legalities to give money to the City ” in order to make the database a reality.
Student-Elected Trustee Jackie Koppell ’05, refuted the claims that the administration is not making enough of an effort. “The administration has been very open in this whole ordeal. Rest assured this is not being ignored,” she said.
Throughout the rally, students held signs with messages such as; “Say it loud, say it clear, we don’t want to live in fear,” and “Take back the streets.” After each speaker made their statements, the floor was opened to comments from the public.
“The politicians in the City need constant reminding,” said Alderman Michael Taylor ’05 (D-4th ward), as he referred to the large population of college students and Collegetown residents in Ithaca and therefore the large amount of people who are concerned about “The Creeper”. In a recent letter to the editor in The Sun, Taylor said that “the Ithaca Police Department, Cornell University, and the Collegetown community must work as a unit and together bring the individual responsible for terrorizing the young women of Collegetown to justice.”
Dela Kusi-Appouh grad, a participant in the rally, expressed her concerns that “the police need to find ways so that these criminals can’t find a way out.” She added, “My windows are bolted shut now.”
Recently, the S.A. has made efforts to inform students on how to protect themselves from “The Creeper” by handing out quarter cards at night. These cards remind residents to “Lock your doors and windows!!! Protect yourself and your friends. It is better to be SAFE than sorry.”
Further efforts to bring attention to the issue of Collegetown safety will be made by a march and a rally sponsored by various concerned groups on campus today at 6 p.m. in front of the Schwartz Center.
Archived article by Stephanie Wickham
Sun Staff Writer