After declaring a “state emergency for black students” following the assault of a black Cornell junior in Collegetown on Friday, Black Students United is encouraging students to wear black on Tuesday and said the group will be “interrupting” Tuesday’s University Assembly meeting.
BSU said in a statement that the University Assembly was responsible for creating the Campus Code of Conduct, which the group said “is a key instrument in protecting white supremacists from receiving consequences for using hate speech by declaring their words as an exercise of their freedom of speech.”
The group said it “will be difficult to change” the Code, but that “with the help of the entire community, we can attend the meeting and make a solid effort in securing the safety of black students on campus.” More than 70 students had indicated on Facebook that they were interested in attending the rally by press time on Monday evening.
“We want people to show up in support of Black Students United as we continue to hold the administration accountable,” Delmar Fears ’19, a co-chair of BSU, told The Sun.
BSU Executive Board members said in an interview over the weekend that they were considering attempting to add language to the Code restricting “hate speech.” Some members were frustrated by a meeting with Vijay Pendakur, the dean of students, they said, in part because Pendakur emphasized that the University could not punish students for “hate speech.”
Gabriel Kaufman ’18, chair of the U.A., said he looked forward to hearing the concerns of BSU members and other students at the meeting at 4:30 p.m. in 701 Clark Hall on Tuesday.
“We’re delighted that the community has taken an interest in our business and we look forward to a productive discussion with members of the community tomorrow,” Kaufman said, adding that the assembly had allotted time on its agenda to hear students’ concerns related to the Friday morning assault.
A Cornell student has been arrested relating to the assault, in which a black student said he was called the N-word and repeatedly punched by a group of four or five white men. The arrested student is 19 years old and white, The New York Times reported. Police have not yet released his identity. Some Cornell students questioned why the student has not been charged with a hate crime.
The student who said he was assaulted — a member of Kappa Sigma — spoke to The Sun on Friday from a local hospital, where he was being checked for a possible concussion and broken nose. Both of those tests were negative.
President Martha Pollack on Sunday released a series of steps meant to improve the campus climate, including creating a task force “charged with examining and addressing persistent problems of bigotry and intolerance at Cornell.”
Pollack also said that Cornell “will not consider Psi Upsilon’s reinstatement as an affiliated fraternity.” Several campus groups have implicated members of the revoked fraternity in the assault, a claim the fraternity’s alumni association categorically denied in a statement The Sun.
BSU, in its statement, said community members met in Ujamaa Residential College and reflected after the assault. “There were a number of different emotions, but the one common factor was fear,” BSU said.
“Fear of not knowing what is next to come for black students at Cornell. Fear of another racialized attack on one of our brothers and sisters.”
The group said in the statement that it is planning additional actions for Wednesday. More details will be released soon, BSU said.
“The end goals are to receive justice for the black man who was brutally attacked, improve race relations on this campus, and to see overall positive change,” the group said.