I am writing to express my concern about the writing in an article titled, “International Student’s Ph.D. Withheld After Title IX Complaint Accuses Him of ‘Retaliatory’ Publication of Information.” Thoughtful and accurate reporting on sexual assault and harassment is imperative due to the fraught nature of these topics. Precise language and attention to tone accurately communicate written information. This article contains accolades and opinions about the accused student’s academic status (“Patil appears to be a talented student”). The heavy-handed language and disproportionate attention given to the problems he and his family are facing seem to indirectly blame the student who filed the complaint (LA) while portraying Patil as the singular victim. I recognize that LA declined to comment on this story leaving The Sun with little information to include from her perspective, however, this tone amplifies Patil’s obstacles over any potential retaliation faced by LA.
This is in response to the Letter to the Editor of the Cornell Daily Sun (May 7, 2018) from William Fogle, Jr. ’70, Mesa, Arizona, relative to the Cornell Residential Club Fire in 1967. The Cornell Daily Sun has done an excellent job in reporting the facts over the years, facts that Bill Fogle has largely ignored. As the principal investigator of the tragic fire who spent more than one year of my life focused only on the investigation of this tragic fire, I can assure the Cornell Sun and its readers that Fogle’s theory that the Residential Club fire was an arson or murder is not supported by the facts as currently known. Fogle’s supposition based on the media reports of a former Ithaca Police Chief, former Ithaca Fire Chief and former Tompkins County District Attorney (all deceased) is flawed and the reports attributed to them were not based upon any facts then or now known. I can also assure you that contrary to the outrageous claims of Fogle, there was never any “collusion by Cornell University administrators, local law enforcement officials and the press to stall a criminal investigation”.
Last week an editorial was published in the Cornell Sun criticizing the Consensual Relationship Policy Committee’s recommendation to President Martha Pollack of policy CRP-A that bans relationships between graduate/professional students and faculty who work in the same graduate field or degree program over CRP-B which allows for such relationships “provided there is disclosure and an appropriate recusal plan.” The contention lies over the failure of the policy committee to make it’s recommendation solely based on majority votes from the Student, Employee and University Assemblies, as well as the Faculty Senate as the author(s) of the editorial declares that “both pertinent branches of shared governance (the GPSA and Faculty Senate) voted overwhelmingly against the recommendation.”
While the author(s) of the editorial does take into account that the policy committee was candid in stating that “the votes held by the Student, Employee and University Assemblies, as well as the Faculty Senate, were nonbinding and would only be ‘considered’ by the committee,” the policy committee’s provided rationale, which can be found in the final report is also described in the editorial as not adequate. Therefore, members of the Assemblies and Faculty Senate “deserve to know why their opinions were disregarded.”
The policy committee has acknowledged the division among the Cornell Community on CRP-A in the summary portion of the final report provided to President Pollack for consideration. Appreciating that CRP-A comes at the cost of limiting people’s freedom of association, the committee has also recommended that the policy be revisited in three years to ensure it is appropriately serving the Cornell Community. The Consensual Relationship Policy Committee, of which is made up of undergrads, graduate/professional students, postdocs, staff and faculty spanning fields across campus, was charged to craft an easy to abide by policy, taking into consideration research on other university policies, cases where consensual relationship policies failed to protect both students and faculty, and look into the broader context of societal change relevant to differentials in power dynamics in relationships, not act as a governing body responding to its constituents. Creating a policy that would set into place clear boundaries for the broadest population was a response to this research and became an important mandate in recommending CRP-A.
American newspaperman Philip Leslie Graham (1915–1963) was fond of saying that journalism is the “first rough draft of history,” but sometimes that first draft is a long time coming. Just this month, The New York Times published N. R. “Sonny” Kleinfield’s thorough account of the April 1967 fire that took the lives of a Cornell assistant professor and eight students: “Never Solved, a College Dorm Fire Has Become One Manʼs Obsession.” Many will read this story as the belated search for a suspected arsonist, a miscreant who allegedly attacked and killed Cornellians, including members of the University’s novel Six-year PhD Program. But Kleinfield’s engrossing tale is primarily about alleged public corruption in a town-gown enclave: namely, collusion by Cornell University administrators, local law enforcement officials and the press to stall a criminal investigation. In June of 1967, after a second and third fire again struck the ‘Fud’ students who had been relocated from their damaged Cayuga Heights Residential Club dormitory, Ithaca Police Chief Herbert L. Van Ostrand (1907–1997), Ithaca Fire Chief Charles M. Weaver ’39 (1917–1992) and Tompkins County District Attorney Richard Byron Thaler ’53, LLB ’56 (1932–2017) each stated for the record that they suspected the first fatal fire to be arson. But then the story died — completely.
It is not my usual and customary practice to respond to letters such as the one that appeared in The Cornell Sun on: April 26, 2018, but as one of Jack Greenwood’s attorneys, I feel it is imperative to respond to the many misstatements in that letter. That letter is a result of a complete mischaracterization of the facts of this case. First and foremost, Jack Greenwood is completely innocent of the charges that were originally filed in this case. There was a rush to judgment back in September when the local papers sensationalized the assault of a Cornell student because of his race. This could not be further from the truth.
The following is an open letter to President Martha Pollack. Dear President Pollack,
Underage drinking, particularly of hard liquor, has and always will exist on college campuses. Since neither you or I can change the legal drinking age, I would hope we could ensure that when this drinking does occur, it occurs in a regulated environment. The banning of hard liquor from chapter houses inevitably does nothing to the amount of hard liquor consumed by college students, but rather changes the locations in which this consumption occurs. Rather than occur in an environment in which there are sober monitors and university policies in place, such as Greek mixers, they will occur in unregulated off-campus environments.
We, the undersigned members of the Cornell University community, call on Cornellians of conscience to denounce the Israeli military’s recent massacre of unarmed Palestinian protesters participating in the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip. Since March 30, 2018, thousands of Palestinian civilians, including youth, women and men, have affirmed their internationally-recognized “right of return” as historically displaced persons by marching peacefully toward the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The Israeli military has responded with indiscriminate lethal force. Military officials have declared an area 300 meters inside the border fence a “kill zone,” and video evidence shows that soldiers are shooting protesters well behind that line, as well. The Israeli military has killed more than 30 Palestinians.
I generally agree with the idea that the government should engage more actively with its constituents regarding federal policies to challenge the submerged state, but I believe the effects of the Affordable Care Act did not go unnoticed. Many initiatives in the ACA took years to implement, and they took effect gradually over the course of several years. A few of the milestones, such as long-term care insurance (2011), 3.8 percent surcharge on individuals who make over $200,000 (2013) and prohibition of insurance companies from denying individuals with preexisting conditions (2014) were all implemented after the 2010 midterm elections. Indeed, one of the most important pieces of the ACA — the Medicaid expansion — became effective in January 2014 and the Congressional Budget Office is continually updating the increase in health insurance coverage rate today. While there are provisions in the ACA that may go unnoticed, milestones like Medicaid expansion probably did not escape the public eye.
In regards to a statement that I made at the rally last week in support of the people in Gaza, my comment, reported by Ms. Curley, was only a few words of a longer statement in which I indicated that the issue was not only a political issue, but a human rights issue, and that those interested didn’t need to know the deep politics of the issue in order to get involved and stand in solidarity with Palestine on the human rights issue alone. Since the Six Day War of 1967, the U.N. has repeatedly cited Israel for human rights violations in the Occupied Territories and Gaza, which has been described as the “largest outdoor prison in the world.”
In response to those who would characterize the situation as terrorist Palestinians vs. innocent Israelis, I suggest they refer to the U.N. “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967” from which I excerpt the following:
According to B’Tselem [The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories], between 1987 and 2000 just under 1,400 Palestinians were killed by ISF [Israeli Security Forces]. After the year 2000, deaths of Palestinians caused by ISF accelerated, with more than 6,700 deaths, as at October 2013. Of this number, over 3,100 were civilians not involved in hostilities.
In her article, “Cornell Students Rally…”, Cornell Daily Sun reporter Julia Curley quotes CCJP founder Prof. Darlene Evans’ contention that “You don’t have to know about what’s going on in Palestine…to stand in solidarity with Palestine.” Let’s examine that contention. The CCJP represents as “non-violent” the Gaza/Palestinians who throw firebombs, attempt to plant explosives (IEDs and hand grenades) to breach the border with and invade Israel, and are exhorted by their elected government, Hamas, to then “eat the livers” of Israelis. Describing such actions and verbiage as “non-violent” suggests a seriously disordered CCJP agenda. Prof. Evans evidently feels you don’t have to know that there is a Gaza border closure by both Israel and Egypt. Gazans are not setting off IEDs, launching firebombs, burning tires or attempting to breach their border with Egypt, because they know Egypt’s military would not respond with the restraint shown by the IDF.