September 23, 2017

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The time to act is now

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To the Editor:

In light of recent events, we as student-athletes at Cornell have an obligation to address the appalling behaviors that have occurred on our campus. Last Thursday night, a young black student was verbally and allegedly physically assaulted by a former member of the Cornell athletic community. As the voice of student-athletes at Cornell, we want to make it clear that this man’s actions do not represent the values and culture of Cornell Athletics. We are deeply troubled by this event, and this student’s conduct is unacceptable. Although we are all individual representatives of the athletic community, we want to make it clear that the biases and actions exhibited by this student do not accurately portray the beliefs of all student-athletes.

We are not naïve enough to believe that every athlete holds completely inclusive and unprejudiced beliefs, however, it is our obligation to condemn the marginalization of any minority student. The opportunity to be a student-athlete here at Cornell is a privilege and one that we do not take lightly. As leaders on this campus, we are committed to creating a safe and healthy environment in which every individual, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual identity or gender feels respected. We are devoted to holding our teammates and ourselves accountable for both our speech and actions on and off the field, and beyond our campus.

Even if you feel distant from the problem, in situations like this, it is not acceptable to be a bystander. The time to speak up and act is now. We encourage all varsity captains and leaders of other organizations to use this as an opportunity to start a conversation within their groups. Racism, sexism, bigotry and any other form of prejudices are unacceptable from any individual, especially those in athletics who are supposed to represent our University with dignity and respect. We all have goals of exceeding expectations in the classroom, winning championships, and excelling in our respective sports, but our goals need to extend past the classroom, court and field. At times like this we must expand our goals and work to be appropriate leaders and representatives of Cornell University.

We call upon the entire athletic community to work as a cohesive unit towards a unified goal of creating an overall campus environment where every individual feels accepted. It is a part of the University’s mission statement regarding diversity that we, “don’t just accommodate differences, but engage with them; And provide rich opportunities for learning from those differences.” As leaders on this campus we need to challenge each other and ourselves to uphold these standards, and strive to construct a more accepting atmosphere in our community.

We will continue to represent Cornell with the utmost pride, and we are honored to be able to wear its letters across our chest each day.

Tori Togashi ’18
co-president of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, softball

Morgan Chall ’19
co-president of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, gymnastics 

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  • Jay Wind

    The letter asserts, “verbally and allegedly physically assaulted by a former member of the Cornell athletic community” Some people claim that the person arrested was removed from the Squash team the day before the assault, and other claim he was removed from the squash team on the Saturday after the assault. The Sun needs more investigation of this claim.

    There were a group of people involved in the confrontation a week ago last Thursday. The person sent to the hospital allegedly was trying to break up another fight. Were any of the people involved in that earlier fight members of the Cornell athletic community?

    How do one softball player and one gymnast speak for “the Cornell athletic community”? Was there a meeting of all team captains and a vote to adopt this statement?

    The letter writes, “our obligation to condemn the marginalization of any minority student.” I would hope that the student athletes would instead speak out about an obligation to condemn marginalization of ANY Cornell student. The letter discusses, “The opportunity to be a student-athlete here at Cornell is a privilege” but it is a “privilege” afforded to ALL Cornell students. Many people are starting to read the use of the word “privilege” as a microaggression against white people. I hope that all Cornell students will come to see Cornell in non-racial terms where opportunities, such as the availability of sports are extended without regard to race.

    We want a Cornell where the best players to win slots on the teams without regard to race. Want a Cornell where the best faculty are hired or promoted without regard to race. We want a Cornell where the best counselors, psychologists and other staff are hired or promoted without regard to race. Perhaps the letter should have addressed how the essence of Cornell is under attack by “identity politics.”