November 7, 2021

GUEST ROOM | GPSA and SA President’s Letter to President Pollack Concerning the Events of November 7th

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This letter has been published as it was written and signed. As a result it has not been edited by The Sun to conform with Sun Style. It was sent to President Martha Pollack, in response to the events of Nov.7.

Dear President Pollack, 

We are reaching out to you as the respective presidents of the Graduate Professional Student Assembly (GPSA) and Student Assembly (SA) to express student concerns over the events that took place on the Ithaca campus the afternoon of November 7th. 

It is unreasonable to expect that students were able to perform tasks at the same productivity levels this afternoon and evening as they do on “normal” Sundays. Many students were unable to access campus resources to finish assignments or complete laboratory requirements. The “evacuation” instructions also encouraged many on-campus residents to find safety in friends’ apartments and off-campus spaces, resulting in the displacement of many students for several hours as the situation progressed with very limited information and updates. 

With limited updates about the circumstances of the bomb threats, many students resorted to social media and group chats where anxieties and fears were only perpetuated further. False information spread around campus, including rumors of active shooters on campus, threatening student injuries, and organized attacks across other Ivy League universities.    

As students faced the difficult challenges of this weekend, several professors have remained unaccommodating to their requests and needs in these difficult circumstances. Several students are expected to take high-pressure exams and turn in grade-determining assignments without the adequate time and accommodations to do so. 

We would also like to bring your attention to two online petitions (Care2Petitions and Qualtrics) that have been circulating among the campus community. Since late Sunday evening, the signatures of numerous Cornelians have been recorded asking the university to consider making campus-wide accommodations, and providing a “Mental Health Monday” for students to catch up on assignments and process the traumatic events of this afternoon. 

That being said, we ask the university administration to show empathy to the valid concerns of its university students. To answer the immediate campus concerns, we urge you and senior administrators to respect the request for a “Mental Health Monday” observance tomorrow, to allow students the time needed to seek out mental health resources and complete ongoing assignments. 

Beyond our requests, we would like to thank our on-campus response teams and the local and state agencies that helped support our campus during this crisis. Our gratitude further extends to the student leaders who helped secure shelter for friends, continue to disperse mental health resources to peers, and who met the challenges of this evening despite academic and extracurricular pressures. 

Thank you, 

Preston Hanley – President, Graduate Professional Student Assembly

Anuli Ononye – President, Student Assembly