Taryn Chung/Sun Staff Photographer

Students sat around the Arts Quad on the "community day" held on Nov. 4, 2023.

November 6, 2023

Community Day Sparks Mixed Feelings Regarding University Response to Safety Concerns

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As Cornellians navigated threats towards Jewish students, the arrest of a student for the threats and a police report of an armed individual near campus within the span of a week, the administration announced on Nov. 1 that classes would be canceled on Friday, Nov. 3, to serve as a “community day.” 

The decision was made to encourage unity within the student body and to grant students time to prioritize their well-being. 

“Take care of yourselves and reflect on how we can nurture the kind of caring, mutually supportive community that we all value,” the announcement said.

Several students who spoke to The Sun expressed their ongoing concerns regarding safety on campus and called for greater action from the administration, emphasizing that one day of restoration is not sufficient to address their grievances. 

Izzy Lotenberg ’27 told The Sun she is still seeking clarity regarding the steps that would be taken to ensure their safety and well-being. Lotenberg said that while the day may have provided a welcome break from the rigors of academic life at Cornell, it was not enough to address the pressing issues facing the University.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to take a break from the pressures of school and relax with their friends. But it won’t change the current state of this campus,” Lotenberg said. “We need to see actual change, not just a day.” 

Ben Hamel ’26 also voiced concerns regarding the effectiveness of the day’s proceedings. 

“I think the idea of community [day] was in the right place, but the reality of it was that students did not really take the time to think about the events of the world,” Hamel said. “It was more of a mental health day, which could be good for students in its own way, but I think the students would have benefited more from a mandatory panel discussion.”

Some students also expressed concerns regarding the timing of the event. Samantha Whitney ’27 expressed that the University should have taken measures sooner to improve student well-being given recent events.

“Did it really take a serious incident, like someone pulling out a gun, for the school to recognize the urgent need for a stronger sense of community?” Whitney said. 

Still, some students noted that the day provided a needed respite from the past week. Dylan Cochin ’27 stressed the importance of fostering unity within the community in light of persistent global and campus challenges, commenting that the day was effective in its effort to bring about a sense of community. 

“Not only on campus but throughout the world, we’re going through tough times. As a community, we need to be as united as ever so we can overcome these difficult times and continue to have a positive impact on the world,” Cochin said. “I see community day as the perfect way to do this.” 

Looking ahead, students like Lila Mager ’27 expressed hope that campus sentiment would improve beyond the community day. 

“I really hope the morale around campus will improve in the following week,” Mager said. “I think the University needs to put more effort into ensuring the safety of all students. I hope this week I will not feel scared walking outside my dorm.”

Samantha Palombo is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].