Nina Davis/Sun Photography Editor

Four Cornell students were temporarily suspended at 3:08 p.m. on April 26.

April 26, 2024

BREAKING: Cornell Suspends Four Student Protestors

Print More

Following negotiations between demonstrators and the administration over the pro-Palestine Arts Quad encampment, four students have been temporarily suspended. 

Today at 3:08 p.m., the University notified the four students about their suspensions in an email obtained by The Sun signed by Christina Liang, director of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

Three of the suspended students are Bianca Waked grad, Momodou Taal grad and Nick Wilson ’26, confirmed in interviews with The Sun. The fourth suspended student declined to share their identity with The Sun. Taal and Waked are international students, meaning suspensions threaten their legal status in the country.

Now suspended student Momodou Taal grad discusses with Christopher Cowen, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Cornell. (Nina Davis/Sun Photography Editor)

Students are being charged with unauthorized use of University property by engaging in or facilitating outdoor camping on the Arts Quad without approval, failure to comply with University directives to remove the unauthorized encampment, unreasonably loud chants and behavior, failure to disperse from the Arts Quad and staying past 8 p.m. on April 25 — the initial deadline to leave given by administrators.

Waked, who is Deaf, was still charged with unreasonably loud behavior. 

The suspension is effective immediately, pending a resolution of the underlying conduct action. According to the Cornell Student Code of Conduct, suspended students do not receive credit for their coursework the semester, class attendance, participation in examinations and utilization of University premises and facilities may be withdrawn. During the suspension period, the students will not be allowed on campus, except for special cases. 

International students who face suspensions could enter violation of their F-1 status. If students are found in violation of United States immigration law, they may be required to leave the United States if they are not able to enroll as full-time students either in their current institution or a transfer institution.  

Waked said the measure disproportionately penalizes international students by endangering their legal status in the country, which domestic students are not subjected to. 

Bianca Waked grad, who is deaf, was charged with unreasonably loud behavior, among other charges. (Jason Wu/Sun Senior Photographer)

“What that sounds like to me, is that our right to free speech is not as important as American students’ rights, or rather, comes at a much higher cost than American students,” Waked said.

During negotiations Thursday night, Waked asked Christopher Cowen, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Cornell, whether administrators evaluated the potential repercussions for international students in their consideration of suspending students.

Cowen said students needed to consider how suspensions meant varying implications for students under different conditions. Beyond international students, credit loss for seniors means they can not graduate on time.

Students who reside in University housing or are subscribed to a meal plan are given a short grace period to continue using those select University resources, according to the email sent to suspended students, which was obtained by The Sun. The email did not specify the length of the grace period or timeframe for students to vacate.

Wilson currently lives on campus.

The email also stated: “If you need to access Cornell Health for health care, you will be permitted to do so.”

In a press release sent to The Sun, the Coalition for Mutual Liberation labeled the suspension as an attempt from the administration to silence students. The organization asserted that demonstrators would not waver in their cause.

“Our demands remain the same, and we raise our voices in unison to say: Divest Now,” the press release read.

Nick Wilson ’26 will be required to vacate his campus housing due to his suspension. (Nina Davis/Sun Photography Editor)

“I think the idea that silencing students — that arresting and suspending and taking disciplinary action against your own students — is going to stop our movement or is going to stop the national cause from divestment from the genocide in Gaza is absolutely false,” Wilson said.

Waked said the administration was hypocritical in their standards for allowing different kinds of speech on campus, citing recent conservative speakers invited to campus. 

“We have watched speakers like Ann Coulter who have said utterly egregious things about the Jewish community get invited with open arms,” Waked said. “And apparently an encampment in which students were dancing and feeding each other, and having teach-ins by faculty members is the real threat to this University according to the administration.”

Update, 4/26, 7:30 p.m.: This article has been updated to include more details about the suspensions and interviews with three of the four suspended students.