Isabelle Jung/Sun Graphics Editor

April 17, 2024

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Make Us Feel Safe Here

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Dear Provost Kotlikoff,

I’m writing in absolute astonishment at the recent arrests on campus of students, staff and faculty. I don’t know what you are hoping to accomplish, but I will tell you how it is being received. Particularly with this latest arrest of a faculty member at Ann Coulter’s anti-immigration talk, I feel I’ve been put on notice that I am part of a hostile workplace where free speech means that: we can be subjected to insults that target our core humanity as a University community and arrested simply for speaking out against voices with which we disagree. This does not impact everyone on campus in the same way. I want you to understand how damaging this is to those of us at Cornell who are subjected to the current national culture wars: Professor Cornejo is an immigrant and I myself am transgender. What is next? Will you pay thousands to an anti-trans speaker and then have me arrested if I speak out in the Q&A to defend myself when the speaker decides my question is not worth hearing? I am appalled and saddened that Cornell is more invested in catering to anti-intellectual and anti-education national political agitators than in ensuring that its own faculty and students can put their energy into research and learning instead of having to defend ourselves against those who would prefer we simply not exist. I urge you to drop all charges against members of our Cornell community; to consider the psychological and professional cost to those of us who are underrepresented here; to offer sincere apologies to the students, staff, and faculty who have now been targeted by their own institution and to take their positions and their grievances seriously. Cornell is all of us, and right now it does not feel that way at all. I do not feel welcome at Cornell.

I hope you’ll take the time to respond to my concerns.

Noah Tamarkin is an associate professor of Anthropology and Science & Technology Studies at Cornell. He focuses on the ethnographic field research in South Africa. Noah can be reached at [email protected].

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