Updated Sunday afternoon
The statue of Andrew Dickson White, Cornell’s first president, on the Arts Quad was spray painted with the word “Divest” Saturday morning.
The image of what appeared to be a hammer and sickle — a symbol of the Communist movement — was also sprayed on top of the message.
Cleanup crews removed the paint at approximately 4 p.m.
Students criticized the defacement on the “Overheard at Cornell” Facebook group, with a post addressing the act after 12 p.m. Saturday.
CUPD Chief Kathy Zoner said Sunday that authorities are currently working to find the person or people responsible for the act.
“We have a few leads, but we’re always happy to listen to anyone from the community who might have more information,” Zoner said.
A movement for Cornell to divest from the fossil fuels industry returned to the spotlight this semester when students confronted members of the Board of Trustees about divestiture at a forum Oct. 21. Prof. David Shalloway, molecular biology and genetics, also urged the trustees to divest during a presentation to the Board Oct. 23.
Additionally, at a rally on Thursday in the lobby of Willard Straight Hall, members of the Cornell Independent Students’ Union demanded that the University divest from fossil fuels.
Wyatt Nelson ’16, a member of CISU, said the act was not supported or condoned by the organization.
“The act was done without support or knowledge of by Cornell Independent Students Union. It was not discussed at meetings, and I think the group would not have supported it even if it had been discussed,” he said. “At CISU’s recent rally, we expressed the need for democracy and divestment, not for spray painting or vandalism.”
Nelson said he does not believe that this particular action is “a good way to get people interested in divestment.”
“I think that students must act collectively, as a group and in public, in order to enact change. Protest must be well thought out and planned by a group. I would not characterize this act as such,” he said. “Historically, people have defaced the statue in protest of the administration; this act is a continuation of that history.”