“What do we want? Accountability! When do we want it? Now!” people chanted at a demonstration on Saturday. The group marched in support of Julia Feliz, the fellow who called Cornell racist after they were removed from the Alliance for Science program on Oct. 15.
Amidst the bustle of First-Year Family Weekend, two dozen students and Ithaca community members began their demonstration outside of the Cornell Store on Ho Plaza, where people held signs in support of Feliz.
“Given the fact that we are all marginalized people, I think the turnout is amazing, because we have been punished for speaking up,” Feliz said.
Feliz’s troubles began at a lecture by Prof. Max Rothschild, an animal science professor at Iowa State University, whom Feliz claimed was racist during the event. Rothschild strongly denied Feliz’s account of his guest lecture in a statement to The Sun.
After publicly sharing their story on Medium, Feliz found support through the Student Assembly, which passed a supporting statement on Thursday. The University has responded saying Feliz was dismissed due to disrupting the classroom. Other fellows of the program have publicly denied Feliz’s accusations.
Adriana Herrera ’20, a principal organizer of the demonstration, said she did not want anyone else to have to deal with a situation like Feliz’s, and does not want any more “Band-Aid solutions” to similar situations. She held a sign stating Cornell’s motto “Any person, any study” with a footnote, “unless they speak out about racism, ableism, bigotry, transphobia, + white supremacy.”
After 30 minutes on Ho Plaza, the group began to make their way to the Arts Quad, chanting a demand for accountability as they marched.
“We will not let injustice happen on campus! We refuse to stand idly by!” said Gavin Martin ’20, leader of the chants, as the demonstrators parked themselves on the A.D. White statue in front of Goldwin Smith Hall. Martin, a S.A. Arts and Sciences representative, championed the assembly’s resolution.
Fall Fest, hosted by Campus Activities, was in full swing on the Arts Quad, attracting more attention and inquiries about the demonstration over the course of two hours.
Vonne Brown, an Ithaca resident that participated in the demonstration, found out about Feliz’s dismissal via Instagram and thought the situation was “really fucked up.”
A passing tour guide acknowledged the demonstration, emphasizing that Cornell has an active and engaged campus, before continuing on with the rest of the tour.
Martin, who led the push for the S.A. resolution and participated in the entire demonstration, said the event was for visibility and public awareness.
“The university should not be comfortable being complicit, being a bystander,” Martin said. His sign read, “Speaking up should not mean punishment.”