Courtesy of Buena Park High School

May 25, 2024

GUEST ROOM | New Alumni Statement Against Money for Genocide

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“If you don’t want to be engaged – if you don’t want to confront oppression – your role as an intellectual is pointless.”

— Bassel al-Araj

We write as graduating students, and when this is published, alumni of Cornell University. Many of us began our time here amidst the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic, seeking out community and academic discovery to help us navigate what felt like a rapidly unraveling world. Four years later, our community and embodied practice of that which we learn has emerged despite this institution. 

This past month, the People’s University provided a space for building community around the shared value of mutual liberation. As Cornell soon becomes a place of memory, our patch of grass in the Arts Quad will loom large in our collective consciousness, representing the power of protest, action and solidarity. When we close our eyes and remember our college years, we will see our peers standing arm and arm against the tide of repression. Together, we are so much more than a static institution: We are alive and united in our unshakeable convictions.

Cornell has failed its students and its purported mission. The United Nations Office of The High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on all states with influence to protect civilian lives, and yet Cornell chooses to continue funding weapons manufacturers and research that threaten and destroy civilian lives each day. Cornell prides itself on sustainability initiatives, yet it is funding the decimation of 40 percent of Gaza’s agricultural land. There is no acceptable rationale for the destruction of every university in Gaza and the deaths of over 35,000 Palestinians. 

Cornell has shown itself to be a profit-driven structure caring more about its assets, leadership security and donor influence than it does the concerns or safety of its students or the hypocrisy of its actions. The utter lack of morality demonstrated by Cornell’s administration and Board of Trustees has made it abundantly clear that they do not act with the best interest of students, or even their own guidelines, in mind. Despite the 2016 Guidelines for Divestment which state that divestment will be considered if a company’s actions are “morally reprehensible” or inconsistent with the goals and principles of the University, Cornell maintains investments in weapons manufacturers actively supporting and profiting from the genocide of Palestinians. 

President Pollack’s insinuation that it is “impossible” to divest from specific companies contributing to mass violence is both insincere and antithetical to the aims of accountability and justice. This utter lack of responsibility reflects an unwillingness to question the status quo, despite such questioning providing the very basis for any academic pursuit. The Board of Trustees must act with the utmost urgency to pursue divestment. A university invested in destruction — of human lives, infrastructure, ecology and education — is a failed university. 

To truly be an institution for “any person, any study” we must stop funding the destruction of our peers and their schools. As alumni committed to the fight for Palestinian liberation, we recognize that our work necessitates dismantling imperialism and occupation on both local Gayogo̱hó:nǫɁ lands and global scales. We pledge that Cornell will not receive a single dollar in support until our money no longer funds endless violence, starting with the Palestinian genocide. We instead pledge our support to the dedicated Cornell students, faculty and staff continuing the struggle, recognizing that mutual aid, liberatory education and ongoing protest are what always have and always will create a more just world.

There are no graduates in Palestine’s Class of 2024, so let us be their voice. 

Divest from genocide. Free Palestine. 

Written and signed by members of the Class of ’24 refusing to donate money to Cornell while it continues to profit from genocide. 

— Eliza Salamon, Information Science

— Maral Asik, ILR 

—  Gabriel Ewig, Mechanical Engineering

— Kathryn Cuneo, Religious Studies

— Isa Goico, Art Major AAP

— Sivan Gordon-Buxbaum, Plant Science

— Crystal Zhu, Computer Science

— Milay Haskin, Plant Science

— Sydney Rosen, Biological Sciences

— Kathryn Ritchie, ILR

— Caroline Ryan, Science and Technology Studies

— Audrey Lockett, Nutritional Sciences

— Michelle Wei, Comparative Literature

Further Signatories: Class of ’24: No Money for Genocide

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