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December 12, 2016

Diversity Event, Tapestry, Cancelled for Next Year

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Tapestry of Possibilities — the diversity event that has been presented to incoming first-year students for the past 11 years — has been canceled and will be replaced by the Identity and Belonging Project at Cornell.

This year’s Tapestry event was particularly controversial. Students described what felt to them like hostile exchanges during the discussion part of the event, and observers criticized this year’s performance for failing to include any mention of male sexual assault.

However, in a Sun letter to the editor, members of Ordinary People — the group that puts on the performance every year — defended the event, saying that in a 60 minute performance, they could not possibly mention every single possible diversity issue.

The new program will feature stories based on submissions from undergraduates and will be performed by student volunteers, according to Lindsay Hansen, director for orientation programs.

“We hope this program will create a strong foundation for our students’ commitment to Cornell’s values and community standards related to identity, inclusion and belonging, and provide a starting point for continued engagement with this work across their time with us, and beyond,” she said.

Hansen did not specify exactly why Tapestry was cancelled, saying only that the new program aims to represent a broad range of current undergraduate student experiences.

Several members of Ordinary People are displeased with the change. One member, who asked to remain anonymous, saying the administration had asked the group not to speak publicly, believes the new program is the administration’s way of controlling the content written about the University, pointing out that Tapestry is already based on student experiences.

“We, as a group, were shocked and disappointed when we found out that Tapestry was being cancelled,” she said. “Even though this year of Tapestry was especially draining, we do it because we want a variety of stories to be presented to the students, we want them to feel less alone.”

The member said the group was given conflicting information from the administration as to why Tapestry was cancelled — from budget issues to the administration’s desire to move away from theater as a medium — and that the group will not participate in any new programming.