October 26, 2017

GUEST ROOM | Moving Forward

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As a Jew at Cornell, I am lucky to be part of a community of nearly a quarter of the student body. While a minority on campus, the Jewish population at Cornell is vocal and present. We make ourselves heard.

When Cornell woke up to anti-Semitic posters and swastikas posted around campus on Monday morning, I was upset, but I was not afraid. I was not afraid because I believe that the Jewish community at Cornell is much too big and outspoken to let this slide. I was not afraid because if I was, the person who put up these posters would have been successful.

However, this is only how I felt. I cannot speak for the entire Jewish population at Cornell, nor can anyone else. Some Jews on campus felt attacked, threatened and scared, and rightfully so. It’s scary when a place we call “home” doesn’t feel so welcoming anymore.

The response from the greater Cornell community was nothing but love and support, which was expected. Anti-Semitism is unacceptable, and I am relieved that so many people and groups agree.

However, as Jews, we cannot expect this outpouring of love and support to come unconditionally now that we are part of the “We’ve been marginalized too” club at Cornell. We have the responsibility to reciprocate that love and support back to other marginalized communities on campus.

Hillel was silent when a student was physically assaulted because of his race and when students were verbally assaulted outside of their home. While many leaders of Hillel attended the protests and walkouts and sit-ins, the presence of the “Jewish community” was not felt. How can we expect marginalized groups to support us when we aren’t actively supporting them?

The fact of the matter is that Jews are one of the largest and most unified minorities on campus, and our voice is often louder, and more influential, than those of other minority groups at Cornell. It is our responsibility to stand against all bigotry on this campus. We cannot use this voice to advocate for ourselves exclusively.

Without discrediting the real threat of anti-Semitism, we must also keep our struggles in perspective. Hate is hate, but we cannot equate these recent acts of anti-Semitism to the persistent acts of racism that occur on campus. Jewish students make up roughly 21 percent of the student body. Black students make up roughly 6 percent. Sheer numbers allow students like me to have some comfort in the fact that the Jewish community at Cornell will never be overshadowed. We would never let this slide.

As we move on from this incident, it is only a matter of time before another minority group on campus is targeted. Only time will tell which one it is. As Jews, we must show unwavering support for all marginalized groups on campus. We must stand beside them, like they stood beside us this week.

To everyone that sent love and support to the Jewish community: thank you. It is unbelievably appreciated. As all minority groups face an inevitable future of marginalization, I truly hope that we can return the favor.


Andrew Young ’20 is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Guest Room appears periodically throughout the semester.