Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Black Students United gather a rally for DACA students in September. Following the assault of a black student in Collegetown, Black Student organizations from schools in the Ivy League have voiced solidarity for BSU.

September 19, 2017

Ivies Stand With Black Students United at Cornell After Assault

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In response to the assault Friday evening in which a Cornell student said he was attacked and called the N-word, black student organizations around the Ivy League have voiced their solidarity with Black Students United at Cornell.

The Harvard Black Students Association, the Black Student Union at Brown and the Black Student Alliance of Yale University all posted statements of solidarity with Cornell BSU and called for action from Cornell University in response to Friday’s events.

“During a time in which we continue to see the lives of people of color neglected and ignored, we hope to see significant action from Cornell to promote healing and reconciliation among the student and Ithaca communities,” Yale BSA’s statement read. “We also call on our campus, Yale University, to put forth as many resources and educational programs as possible to ensure that such actions never take place on our campus.”

Black Student Union at Brown posted the statement from BSU at Cornell and said that it “stands in solidarity with the student who was attacked as well as the Black Students United at Cornell University,” in its statement.

For Hasani Hayden ’19, president of Harvard BSA, publishing a statement of solidarity was “the only responsible thing as another black organization at a similar university,” he said.

Delma Fears ’19, co-chair of Black Students United, said it was both “heartening and disheartening” to see other universities’ BSUs lend their support to black students at Cornell.

“I’m glad people are standing in solidarity, but it’s also sad that this moment makes people think of other hate crimes on their campuses,” Fears said.

Harvard Black Students Association has additionally planned a rally for Wednesday afternoon “in support of our Black peers at Cornell,” BSA’s statement read.

“Our plans are to have a rally on this Wednesday and to call attention to this nationwide debate of what is free speech,” Hayden told The Sun.“We’re hoping that Cornell does see merit in our argument that they reform, that they make an amendment to their free speech clause.”

In the recent days, Cornell’s Student Assembly has considered actions regarding free speech on campus, proposing a push to ban “hate speech” on campus. At a community input session in Collegetown Sunday night, members of Student Assembly discussed these plans with other students.

Hayden said he hopes Harvard’s rally on Wednesday will compel Cornell to consider reform to their policy on hate speech — an issue that Hayden said Harvard students are demanding from their own administration as well.

“For [the students involved] not to be held accountable for using what is like vocalized violence or verbal violence, for them not to be held accountable for that due to free speech, is unacceptable,” Hayden said. “Hate speech is not something that we can claim should be tolerated on one of the most intellectual campuses in the world at Cornell.”

Hayden cited other occasions in his undergraduate experience where universities nationwide acted in solidarity — such as with University of Missouri in 2015 — saying that moments such as these are times when “the entire nation paid attention to what students at these institutions were saying.”

Similar to the aim of Harvard BSA’s rally, Black Student Alliance at Yale called on “Cornell’s senior administration to demonstrate leadership, aggressively investigate this incident and punish those accountable for this heinous act,” its statement read.

“[We’re] thankful that the student still has his life. We’re thankful that it seems like a majority of people are on the side of justice in the situation and that the majority of people agree that what happened at Cornell should never happen again to another student,” Hayden said. “And the fact that clause exists is almost embarrassing in 2017 that wasn’t protected.”