Students gathered last night at Noyes Community Recreation Center on West Campus to discuss a race-related incident that occurred at an Ithaca restaurant last month. On Sept. 18, four female Cornell students from the black and Latino communities claim that they were victims of racism after two white men allegedly verbally harassed them inside D.P. Dough.
The gathering was originally intended to protest D.P. Dough, since the restaurant was planning to distribute free food as part of Noyes’s Take Out Tuesday! Program.
However, before the event could take place, Noyes’s staff rescinded its invitation to D.P. Dough. A sign on the door of Noyes read: “Tonight’s Take out Tuesday Noyes will be serving College Town Pizza. Noyes is not in partnership with D.P. Dough and will not be continuing any kind of business in the future.”
Students at the discussion expressed their agreement with Cornell’s decision to ban D.P. Dough from the take-out program.
A senior who works at the Cornell Fitness Center in Noyes said, “I’m very glad Noyes decided not to have D.P. Dough because [Noyes] wanted to respect the students.”
Shakeema Manning ’10, one of the four women involved in the incident, addressed the crowd, saying, “Support Noyes because they supported us.”
Students distributed a statement prepared by Christine Baptiste-Perez ’10, another woman involved in the incident, describing the confrontation at D.P. Dough.
“I’m so happy Noyes won’t order from D.P. Dough,” said Baptiste-Perez. She continued by saying that she hoped word of the incident would spread throughout the Cornell, Ithaca College, Tompkins County Community College and Ithaca communities.
Rachel Mack ’10 came to the event upon leaving the gym at Noyes. After reading the statement, she said, “I think it’s really sad that something so heinous and racist could happen so close to a major academic community where we promote diversity.”
“I’m here to fight for equality,” said Jeriann Collymore ’11, who came to Noyes with her friend Nina Daoud ’11.
“There’s always strength in numbers,” Daoud said.
Baptiste-Perez was hoping for D.P. Dough to give “an apology to us, and all their customers.” She said that the white men remained inside the restaurant until a police officer came to question them. Meanwhile, four police officers remained outside with the women.
Manning claimed that the restaurant was racist because “we were the only ones they kicked out . . . Everyone should have been made to leave.”
Bahirah Adewunmi ’10, another of the four women, described the event as “favoritism that escalated into racism.”
One of the men who verbally assaulted the students was a former employee of the restaurant, according to Edward Riethe, a co-owner of D.P. Dough.
Adewunmi claimed that the manager accepted the racist tone of the men as they referred to her and her companions as “ignorant-ass hos,” among other names. “Even if they were friends, [the manager] didn’t have to agree with their views,” she said.
Although their statements did not include any race-specific words, the women maintain that it was a racist incident.
“Ho is the new female n-word,” said Adewunmi. “It goes back to hip-hop [language] and what happened at Rutgers … If not racist, [the incident] was at least sexist.”
Baptiste-Perez claims that although the situation at D.P. Dough appears to be an isolated incident at Cornell, bias-related issues affect all members of the campus community. “This affects people of every race, sex, sexual preference and religion,” she said. “People need to be aware of this because people are letting things pass over. These things need to come to light so something can be done. Real progress can’t happen if stories are hidden.”