Activists from different student groups publicly challenged President Elizabeth Garrett to respond to instances of intimidation from University police toward protesters as well as alleged labor rights abuses at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar during the inauguration events on Friday. Beginning at 9:10 a.m., before Garrett’s inauguration ceremony, student activists gathered on Ho Plaza and on the Arts Quad to distribute an open letter airing grievances regarding campus police actions against student protesters. The letter, addressed to Garrett and signed by the Cornell Independent Students’ Union, Cornell Graduate Students United, the Cornell Progressive and Students for Justice in Palestine, was distributed to visiting alumni, students and faculty members as they entered the seating area in the Arts Quad. “Last semester the Cornell Police used threats of jail time and fabricated charges to intimidate students who voiced dissenting speech,” the letter reads. “Police, wearing armor and carrying guns, are a common sight at peaceful political demonstrations on the Cornell campus.”
According to Alec Desbordes ’17, a member of CISU, the letter was written in response to a campus police investigation of student protester Daniel Marshall ’15 in April, in which the police investigator threatened criminal charges against Marshall if he did not cooperate by answering the investigator’s questions.