March 23, 2016

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Rejecting Racism at Cornell

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Re: “Aided by White Nationalist Groups, Union of White Cornell Students to Release Demands, Host March,” News, March 18

To the Editor:

I am writing on behalf of myself and members of the Cornell Employee Assembly. I was recently approached by one of my constituents who was concerned about an article in The Cornell Sun highlighting the “Union of White Students at Cornell.” After reading your article and their page, I too am alarmed by the manifestation of white privilege and ignorance attributed to the Cornell community.

This kind of racist publicity negatively impacts our current and prospective students, staff and their families. Subsequent coverage has further boosted the group’s message. I have found articles, many referencing The Cornell Sun, in the Ithaca Voice, The College Fix, The Daily Pennsylvanian, The Ithacan, The Daily Caller and The Tab; as well as on Reddit, blogs, forums and more. Whether or not the initial group was started by members of the Cornell community, its impact is very real. Harm has been done, and it needs to be addressed clearly, directly and with action.

Groups like this use flawed logic to justify positions of white supremacy. White is not a race, but a collection of people given preference based upon skin color. When we consider history, it is clear that groups like this are not working towards equality. They are already, as a group, in a position of power. At best, they are perpetuating the status quo of a privileged white society. Based on this, when groups talk about “advancing the white race,” what that means is advancing white power. They are seeking to preserve and expand an unfair advantage that comes at the continuing expense of people of color.

We embrace and value our diversity, work actively to promote equality and understanding, and want our University to feel safe and welcoming to people of all ethnicities. We feel that remaining silent at this point would serve only to reinforce the message of this group. That is why we have to take action.

The EA has drafted a resolution that is in part a declaration of opposition, explicitly denouncing this group and its views as detrimental to the University’s commitment to extending its legacy of recruiting a heterogeneous faculty, student body and staff; fostering a climate that doesn’t just accommodate differences, but engages with them; and providing rich opportunities for learning from those differences.

Our resolution is also a call to action. We will be working with diversity groups to ensure that we, as representatives of our staff, have a better understanding of and more training regarding racism, its historical impact and the ways in which we can support the University’s commitment. We will be reaching out to other Assemblies on campus to encourage them to do the same.

I ask that you join us. Help us boost our signal. Together, we can overwhelm attempts to create fear and division on campus with a positive message. Together, we will lead by example and find new ways to promote the values of and efforts toward true equality that make Cornell such an amazing place to work, study, play and live.

Jeramy A. Kruser, Employee Assembly Representative at Large

  • dd

    I completely agree with your message, however you say, “White is not a race, but a collection of people given preference based upon skin color.” Yet somehow black is considered a race (and worthy of creating organizations under the title “Black Students”?

  • anonymous

    For those who have not read the comments on the original story– “the legitimacy and scope of the Union of White Cornell Student” remains more than a little unclear. I think it was debunked yesterday afternoon to the extent where we should dismiss it unless new, SOLID evidence gives us reason to reconsider. Lish was the first to seriously call this into question with the following post.

    Lish on March 19, 2016 at 1:21 pm said:

    Also, look at their page… they alternately support Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. They also call their commenters things like “literally Hitler.” The evidence says you’re being trolled.
    If you can’t verify their identities as Cornell Students, you shouldn’t have run this piece, and given that this is a known prank occurring at other schools, you should have been even more incredulous.
    Then I followed this up a couple of hours later.

    Anonymous on March 19, 2016 at 3:57 pm said:

    This has all the earmarks of being an elaborate hoax or social experiment. First, there is this.
    “The students also said that the group originally tried to work with student organizations to organize a speaker series, claiming that they have previously and unsuccessfully attempted to convince the International Students Union to sponsor journalist Milo Yiannopolous.

    ISU has refuted this claim, saying that the members of their executive board have not had any contact with the Union of White Cornell Students”

    Then there is the fact that the only one identified associated with this movement is Weev. Weev is a hacker extraordinaire and a well-known internet troll. Trolls often say or do outrageous things just to watch how people react (or overreact) for no reason other than for the lulz. (laughs). It is hard to know, when dealing with a known troll, if he is serious about any of things he says or if he’s just pushing people’s buttons just to stir things up so he can watch mayhem ensue.

    Weev does indeed at least pretend to be a White racist online. But a Slate article entitled “Famous Troll Targets Activists With White-Supremacist Promoted Tweets” suggests that MAYBE, MAYBE this is all an act and he is just stirring things up for laughs. Here is an excerpt from the article by Jacob Brogan

    “Twitter has an advertising problem, but despite disappointing quarterly earnings reports and frustrated investors, it’s not what you might think. Earlier this week, a handful of users were confronted with a tweet proclaiming that “Whites need to stand up for one another and defend ourselves from violence and discrimination.” It might have been possible to dismiss this message—to treat it as a mere product of Twitter’s culture of offense, to block the user, to move on—were this not a promoted tweet. Someone had paid to ensure that this message would show up in users’ feeds. And that meant Twitter was making money from its presence.
    Making money, sure, but not much money, as it turned out. The offending tweet was the brainchild of self-proclaimed hacker Andrew Auernheimer, who goes by the nom de troll “weev.” As he explains in a Storify post, Auernheimer realized that it was possible to promote tweets to specific groups of users. By way of example, he notes, “You can … choose to display ads to followers of specific users, like @Jezebel or @feministing.” This system is designed to help advertisers precisely target their campaigns at those most likely to respond to their messages. In Auernheimer’s case, this meant aiming at individuals most likely to be offended by his “lulzy” “white survival” message.
    The other two anonymous people in contact with the Sun claim they are students, but we have seen no proof of this. They could just as easily be outside agitators.

    And then there is the challenge that all these White Nationalists students will face (that is, if they exist) when executing their plans for a march. How will they march when they are so obsessed with maintaining their anonymity? If they march without masks on then they are likely to be recognized and will lose their anonymity. If they wear masks, then how will they prove they are students and not outside agitators? Unless they PROVE they are students then no one will pay attention to their demands. (And even if they do prove they are students, it is questionable if anyone will take their demands seriously). Moreover, Cornell Police will have every right to demand to see their IDs. If they don’t present their IDs they can be kicked off campus. Perhaps they will prove to Cornell Police that they are students, but that will require them to trust that Police will not leak their information to the public. Perhaps there are laws that would prevent the police from leaking that information, but I’m not an expert in this area.

    However, even if there ARE such laws to prevent such a leak, what is to prevent the police from writing up a report naming the students behind the masks? And what is to prevent a rogue officer from posting the report anonymously on the internet? What is to prevent the police from claiming they had nothing to do with it and that their computers were hacked? Now, I think this scenario is HIGHLY unlikely. I think the Cornell Police have far more integrity than that. But I could be wrong. Will those who want to remain anonymous be willing to take that risk?

    I suggest that people not get too worked up about this and treat this as nothing more than a hoax or social experiment until there is hard evidence otherwise. Or, as the famous internet saying goes, DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!

  • anonymous

    Weev, the troll behind all this, has a Very colorful history. I suggest you google “Weev know your meme”. Or go to and search for Weev. He has a VERY colorful history that most people will find shocking. Given his history, it is INCREDIBLY difficult to believe this is anything but a hoax, and people are falling for it. I bet he’s getting his kicks out of this.

  • Jeramy

    Dd, black is not a race. It is a collection of people of color, from diverse backgrounds, who do not receive equal treatment in this country. Which is why they need the organizations they have.

    Those noting that this was likely started as a hoax, the EA is well aware of this, as was written above “Whether or not the initial group was started by members of the Cornell community, its impact is very real. Harm has been done, and it needs to be addressed clearly, directly and with action…remaining silent at this point would only serve to reinforce the message…”

  • George

    Many POC openly proclaim their intense disdain for white folks. To expect that sentiment to be received with open arms is, to say the least, quite unrealistic.

    • anonymous

      I am not sure what that has to do with this article. I assume that you are speaking from your own experience and not a survey, since I believe that you would find that on a larger scale, opinions of disdain are fairly well distributed across cultures. Aside from that, I did not read anything in the article asking anyone to accept sentiments. The letter only asks that we recognize and call out groups promoting white supremacy.

      • George

        This is all quite ironic. Black, brown, gay etc. students demand separate housing, separate organizations, programs created just for them, more faculty of color (the list is never ending) and then assert that whites get all the privileges. Weak kneed pathetic administrators capitulate almost every time but the demands never cease. A backlash is stirring. When the reviled white people stop making donations (which they did at the University of Missouri), there will not be money for all this foolishness.

        • anonymous

          Ah yes, the sad and neglected middle/upper-class white straight cis male college student. Who is looking out for them?