ITHACA, N.Y. – A group of black students want Cornell University to focus more on recruiting blacks from the United States, rather than African or Caribbean students, among many other demands.
“Black Students United” – which represents people of the “African diaspora” – penned a letter to university administration recently in response to allegations that a white student from the Psi Upsilon fraternity severely beat a black student from the Kappa Sigma fraternity in mid August.
Cornell closed down the Psi Upsilon fraternity as it works to “develop and implement steps to be a more equitable, inclusive and welcoming university,” according to The Washington Post.
John Greenwood, the 19-year-old student accused of the beating, faces a third-degree assault charge and possible hate crimes. Greenwood apologized for using “abhorrent language” during the dispute, but his attorney has maintained that Greenwood was “in no way involved in any physical altercation of any kind,” according to The Cornell Daily Sun.
Black Students United want more to be done, and they’re using the unfortunate incident to pressure school officials into a list of 12 demands – at least some of which target other black students.
The demands are prefaced with a diatribe on Cornell’s inherently white supremacist system that allegedly perpetuates a daily assault of racism against black students on campus.
“We attend a university that’s obsessed with the optics of our black and brown faces but is indifferent to the justice we week. This is not an indictment of white people; this is an indictment of a system that perpetuates white supremacy and shelters our peers under the warm blanket of white privilege – all the while, we are left to freeze in our frigid reality of racist epithets, essentialist curriculum, and apathetic governance,” the letter read.
“In post-racial America, our classmates call us niggers from their pickup trucks in broad daylight. In post-racial America, we are berated by airborne bottles on our own campus. In post-racial America, we are told we have a chip on our shoulder. We are called everything but our name. Above all else, in post-racial America we are bombarded by the deafening silence that allows the centuries-old hum of white supremacy to grow louder,” it continued. “Silence is violence.”
Because Cornell is racist, and its Interfraternity Council is an alleged arm of the white supremacist system, Black Students United drew up a list of 12 demands that will help set things right.
They include a system of mandatory coursework for all students that’s focused on race, gender, discrimination, white privilege and other social justice causes from the perspective of “oppressed people,” as well as mandatory training for staff on the same issues.
Black Students United want Psi Upsilon shut down and to use the building as “an adequate and appropriate space for the people of the Africa diaspora to utilize for programs of any kind, in perpetuity.”
The group also demands mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all greek members on campus, a special “minority liaison” position on the University Assembly, Cornell Health to hire at least two black psychologists and one black doctor in coming years, a new student-led dispute resolution process, and a limit on different types of black students admitted to the Ivy League school.
“We demand that Cornell Admissions to come up with a plan to actively increase the presence of underrepresented Black students on this campus. We define underrepresented Black students as Black Americans who have several generations (more than two) in this country,” the letter read.
The problem is there’s too many black students from other places outside of the U.S., Black Students United argued.
“The Black student population at Cornell disproportionately represents international or first-generation African or Caribbean students,” BSU wrote. “White these students have a right to flourish at Cornell, there is a lack of investment in Black students whose families were affected directly by the African Holocaust in America.
“Cornell must work to actively support students whose families have been impacted for generations by white supremacy and American fascism.”
The demands also include a call for an “Anti-Racism Institute” to “educate the campus and community about the horrors of white supremacy and political education,” among other things.