Black Students United issued a statement on Thursday “apologizing for the delay in response” after one of the 12 demands delivered to President Martha Pollack last month was met with increased controversy, both on and off campus.
The BSU demand, which was not retracted or changed in the statement, called on the Cornell admissions office to increase the presence of “underrepresented Black students,” which it defined as African Americans who have been in the country for more than two generations.
BSU argued in the demands that although international or first generation Caribbean and African students have “a right to flourish” at the University, “Cornell must work to actively support students whose families have been impacted for generations by white supremacy and American fascism.”
“There is a lack of investment in Black students whose families were affected directly by the African Holocaust in America,” the original demand said.
This was considered contradictory by many people both on and off campus.
“Black Student Group Complains Ivy League School Is Letting In Too Many African Students” read a headline from The Daily Caller.
“The purpose of the demand was specifically to address the need for an increased presence of underrepresented Black American students at Cornell,” the statement, issued on BSU’s Facebook page, said. “However, upon further reflection and contemplation, we understand both the complexity and contentious nature of our statement, as well as the frustration and anger that was felt by our community as a consequence of our demand.”
The Thursday statement added that BSU aims to support “all members of the African diaspora” and said that it was encouraging dialogue with campus groups to resolve the issue.
“We are a board comprised of Africans, Caribbeans, and Black Americans. We have and continue to reach out to African and Caribbean groups on campus in the spirit of dialogue and discussion surrounding this topic,” the statement said.
The statement also highlighted BSU’s hopes to launch a community discussion during Homecoming weekend when their alumni return to campus.
BSU delivered the demands to Pollack following a racially charged incident in which a black junior said he was punched in the face and called the N-word by a group of white men.
Pollack has taken steps to fulfill some of the demands, announcing the leaders, goals and timeframe of a presidential task force as well as by commissioning four new clinical staff members for the Counseling And Psychological Service.
Members of BSU did not respond to a request for comment.