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Michael Li / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

September 7, 2017

S.A. Calls for Actions Against Verbal Marginalization; Pollack ‘Committed’ to the Cause

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The floor of Student Assembly was emotional today as the meeting started with a call to action in response to the recent events at the Latino Living Center on North Campus.

Early Wednesday morning — less than a day after President Donald Trump ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — residents of the Latino Living Center on North Campus heard chants of “Build a wall” from the Zeta Psi fraternity house.

“I had to sit there as a leader of my community and watch students who just got here feel unsafe and attacked,” said Irving Torres ’18. “I come to you, as those who are elected to represent our community, to ask what are you going to do and what are you going to say. I’m asking you to listen to me and look at me.”

In response, multiple representatives discussed the lack of consequences on campus to verbal marginalization.

“It’s disgusting that hate speech like this is not followed up with repercussions,” said Mayra Valdez ’18, undesignated at-large representative.

Jung Won Kim ’18, president of S.A., also brought up the Assembly’s previous attempts to pass resolutions expanding on diversity.

“Our assembly will approach the topic of diversity again,” he said. “Sometimes just educating our peers would be a huge step in the right direction to solving the campus climate.”

The floor opened to a forum with President Martha Pollack and Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi, during which students repeatedly echoed Torres’s concerns about the lack of action on campus.

“I know that you don’t want to hear ‘I’m sorry’ anymore, but I don’t think it would be fair without me saying that I am beyond devastated and beyond disgusted by what happened,” Pollack said.

In response to the many calls for action, Pollack noted that “it’s only been a few hours,” and while the administration does not currently have a set response or plan of action yet, she said that she is “committed” to the cause.

“I don’t have a response yet about what we are going to do and what we are not going to do, but we are looking into options,” Pollack said. “Things like facilitating conversation, holding the fraternities responsible, serious investments in getting more faculty and counselors of color.”

Following President Pollack’s suggestions for changes, the Assembly continued to discuss other potential action plans.

“President Pollack offered solutions and those are very helpful, but those do not deal with the root of the problem,” said Renee Alexander ’74, director of Intercultural Programs. “I believe we need to work on people from the moment they step on this campus.”

While brainstorming, members of the Codes and Judicial Committee suggested potential changes to the Code of Conduct, noting that a current rough draft for an amendment would allow for extended periods of suspension for student organizations who violate the code.

Overall, representatives were in agreement on the need for action and moved to discuss the limits of their jurisdiction in order to make a real impact on the student community.

“We’re putting the emotional labor on people of color to tell others not to be racist,” said Jaelle Sanon ’19, first generation student liaison at-large. “We need to look at ourselves.”

  • Jay Wind

    How does a student organization “violate the code”? The notion of institutional culpability is a very difficult one from a legal perspective. In the 1970s, the Campus Code of Conduct, the Statement of Students’ Rights and the campus judicial system were all carefully crafted to both balance the rights of students, faculty and staff with the need for timely and fair adjudication of unacceptable behavior. While some people may be traumatized by the Era of Trump, there is no reason to be hasty in making changes to ether the Code or the system for processing alleged violations.

    The Student Assembly should not want the administration empowered to regulate what people believe or say on campus. Once granted that power, there is nothing to prevent them from going after believes or thoughts that you may like, but that they do not. The whole idea of an academic community is that ideas compete based on their relative merits, not based on some orthodoxy.

    • Jay Wind

      The more that I read the Sun coverage, the less I believe that this is “hate speach”. Was this motivated out of serious hate-fill beliefs or was this a prank? Was it directed toward all Latinos or toward just illegal aliens? Both before and after this episode, do most Latino students on campus feel “marginalized”? Historically, Latino students were full members of the Cornell community. Other than these chants, why would Latino students not feel full members of the community?

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  • roccolore

    Mexican hypocrite crybabies at it again.

  • Marco Ramirez

    Leftists be gone.

  • Pingback: Cornell Student Government Demands Punishment for ‘Build a Wall’ Chant - The Right Side of News()

  • Bealzabub

    If you resort to eliminating diversity (or an entire campus fraternity and it’s student members) how in the hell can you claim to embrace it (diversity)??? (Hint: You can’t! But these snowflake silly students can most certainly bitch to a compliant/kowtowing faculty/administration and ironically build their own wall to protect their own fragile infantile psyches from hurtful words. Poor babies, Cornellians.

  • Pingback: Cornell students believe saying ‘build a wall’ is ‘hate speech’ — and they’re demanding justice | The Dirty Conservative()

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  • Derek Vandivere

    The most disappointing thing to me is that anyone could get into Cornell and not see what an obviously bad and unachievable idea the wall really is. I mean, it’s not really a surprise that a bunch of fraternity brothers turn into jackasses when they hit critical mass, but I’d hope they’d at least see through that.

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