Five actionable items presented to President Skorton, Dean Hubbell, and VP Opperman on October 22nd

The administration did not sign off on any of these initiatives in the meeting, however we received verbal affirmation on all five points and have agreed upon a timeline for each item. Details forthcoming. The most immediate result of the October 22nd meeting is that there will now be student representation on the IMT teams that are aimed at addressing the issue of sexual assault.


October 22, 2012

1      Goal of Meeting – Sign Statement and agree to timeline to establish priorities

2      Review Statement of Urgency with prioritized goals (see statement below)

3      Set next meeting


Statement of Urgency

The items below outline the priorities necessary to address the current campus climate that has allowed a string of both visible and invisible hate crimes to be perpetuated with no adequate response.  We desire the below priorities to be fulfilled in a timely manner. 

1.     Student positions of power on each of the Incident Management Teams. This student would act as a liaison, be included in all communication (agendas, notes, proposals) and participate in a weekly meeting with the team leader to provide student feedback. In this room, you will find at least five volunteers. We also request that IMT processes, notes, and decisions be made publicly available on an accessible website. This should happen IMMEDIATELY (as in Today, October 22, 2012).  ____________ (Initials)

2.   Assistant Dean of Masculinity, who would oversee a  paid, men’s peer education program on sexual violence among other programs centered around the construction of masculinity.  The assistant dean would function under and/or be closely linked with the Women’s Resource Center.  This program would also have strong connections with the LGBTRC, A3C, ALANA and their umbrella organizations, Ujamaa Residential College, Latino Living Center, Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, and the Multicultural Greek Letter Council.  We call for a job creation and hiring post by the end of the semester (December 2012). See this job posting from Dartmouth College for a similar job description: For more info on the Men’s Project at Dartmouth:  ___________ (Initials)

3.   Until the Assistant Dean of Masculinity starts at Cornell, we request a University-mandated workshop facilitated by a panel of professional educators of “diverse” backgrounds and experiences to discuss rape culture, rape, and sexual assault in a way that is inclusive of all genders and sexualities. The program should be cognizant of the fact that rape culture is perpetuated in more than just (cis)gender and hetero-normative relations. In conjunction with this programming we request that there be mandated programs directed to all male-identified organizations, such as fraternities and sports teams, facilitated by A Call to Men or Men Can Stop Rape ( We similarly request a University-mandated workshop facilitated by Consent-Ed or a similar professional organization for all female-identified organizations, such as sororities and sports teams. We, unfortunately, do not know the best way to tackle the issue of sexual assault so that it is both gender inclusive and specific. We would hope to work with administrators who have more experience in this subject matter.

___________ (Initials)  We request that all programming be highly publicized, mandated (e.g. for all residents of campus housing, as a prerequisite for attending Slope Day, etc.), and supported by the University. ___________ (Initials)

4. We insist on evaluating all relevant training programs, such as Respect@Cornell, and student services to determine whether they satisfy our concerns. We insist approval to anonymously engage in and to evaluate the sexual assault services currently offered for inclusivity, efficiency and fluidity. Additionally, once the work is completed to create a seamless, survivor-centered response, we demand approval by the administration to once again undergo the response system anonymously and provide constructive feedback. __________(Initials)

5. We will be working with faculty throughout the process of creating a 4-credit anti-oppression course and a social justice requirement. We request that you release a statement that publicly endorses the creation of a social justice  course or requirement by the end of this semester, December 1, 2012. _________ (Initials).  We request that you show public support for student-faculty efforts to a new social justice course and/or requirement. We have started a dialogue with interested faculty and they have demonstrated their support and willingness to assist our efforts in their statement in today’s Cornell Daily Sun. We look forward to a productive partnership with faculty and administration moving forward.


We, the signed parties below, agree to all the statements above and will work to facilitate accomplishment of them within a timely manner and with adherence to the timeline listed above.


President David Skorton


Vice President Susan Murphy


Vice President Mary Opperman


Email sent to President Skorton before meeting with the administration on Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Below is the email that the Assembly for Justice sent to President Skorton. The email includes an evaluation of each of our updated demands as well as an evaluation of the ways in which the administration has responded thus far. Begin message:

Dear President Skorton,

Below you will find an elaboration of our “list of demands.” We have included an evaluation of the steps the administration is taking and the current programs and services in place. We also provide concrete examples of ways in which these requests might be satisfied as well as suggested roles for students as we move forward in addressing the issues at hand. Rather than spend our precious meeting time on a verbal evaluation of each demand, we are prepared to offer and discuss a condensed set of simple, feasible initial actions which we find agreeable and which align with the ideals that you and the rest of the administration have put forward. We realize that we have previously worked in generalities, which the administration may find difficult to address. Since our last meeting, we have done research into the services Cornell offers, what projects are currently being undertaken, and steps that have been taken by peer institutions. It is our hope that we may find common ground and work together toward creating proactive solutions to address the campus climate and strengthen the relationship between the administration and students in regards to the issues we face as a community.


The Assembly for Justice

1. Implement a mandatory anti-sexual violence training for all incoming and current students that targets rape culture and does not victim-blame.

We are pleased to hear that work is being done to improve the freshman year experience by bringing attention to sexual assault for incoming students. At the community forum, we learned that staff are working to develop new orientation programming. We are concerned, however, about a breakdown in communication between staff and students. Several administrators claimed to be working with student groups such as Consent-Ed, PEGS, and the Women’s Resource Center. However, the President of Consent-Ed, Vice President of PEGS, several WRC board members, as well as a number of other representatives from relevant student organizations are active in Assembly for Justice and the forum was the first time we had heard of any new initiatives regarding sexual assault training or education for freshmen. We eagerly await engagement and consultation on the programs that are currently being developed and look forward to productive collaboration on these difficult issues. We would like to stress that we fully expect these programs to have a scope that includes a discussion of rape culture and the gendered systems of power that promote it. We also expect that any and all training continues beyond orientation and the first year, this might be achieved by an academic course or requirement, which we plan to develop with faculty.

2. Develop a policy statement and directive from the president that demonstrates recognition of sexual violence as a systematically persistent symptom of rape culture, a commitment to reduce its occurrence, and action steps for the campus community.

The statement that President Skorton sent out to the Cornell community on October 4th was much welcomed by the Assembly; however we did not find that it reflected our previous discussion about survivor-sensitive and empowering language. We found the following quotation to be indicative of a misrepresentation of the problem. By excluding any mention of systematic rape culture and prioritizing an irrelevant notion of personal security, the president places onus on the potential victim to protect him/herself.

“Some have said that advocating for personal responsibility in the context of a violent and biased culture is tantamount to blaming the victim. I disagree. There is no substitute for taking personal precautions and prudent planning, and I urge all to do so.”

It is not that we reject the value of personal safety initiatives in general, it is that the disproportionate emphasis on individual responsibility obscures the systems of power that facilitate sexual violence. It also fails to recognize that while we have faced a surge in public attacks on this campus, the vast majority of sexual assaults occur in familiar settings, by perpetrators who are known by their victims; this omission works to further conceal the hidden epidemic that is sexual violence. If we are to be told to take personal precautions, then we would like to see, in the same breath, an acknowledgement and understanding of the systemic and silenced nature of sexual assault.  The statements put out by Amherst President Biddy Martin and their Board of Trustees may be seen as models of the tone, specificity, and action-oriented response that this issue deserves.

3. Establish a multidisciplinary task-force on campus to address sexual violence prevention and response services that includes high-level campus administration, academic leaders, student leaders, and community partnerships.

While the Incident Management Team program has potential, students have been excluded from this response. We request that the IMT make their process and meeting notes available to students in the interest in transparency. We would like to create a student liaison position for each team. These student volunteers would be responsible for reading meeting notes, updating students on the progress of each team, and meeting with team leaders to provide feedback. While we understand that the IMT program is temporary and has been charged with creating “short term deliverables” within a strict timeframe, we feel strongly that a liaison position will create a more transparent, trusting relationship between students and administration as we move toward “longer term action.” We hope that student involvement in the IMT program might lay the groundwork for long-term cooperation and collaboration in addressing issues of sexual assault and bias-related crimes.

4. Proactively acknowledge the ways in which sexual violence intersects with race, gender, and sexuality when creating policies and programming so that

a)  Stereotypes about men of color are dismantled rather than reinforced

We would like to see the creation of a space for men of color to unpack the stereotypes and implications of guilt that are reinforced in the Crime Alert descriptions of perpetrators. This is an example of race intersecting sexual violence in such a way that causes pain, suspicion, and misinformation in the Cornell community.

b) Sexual violence in the LGBTQ community is not rendered invisible

We insist that gender neutral and non-heterosexist language be used whenever possible in conversations of sexual assault. We also request that the LGBT Resource Center and Haven be included in solution-oriented dialogue around the issue of sexual violence, just as the WRC has been considered.

c)  Men are invested in the prevention of sexual violence, including those actions that dehumanize and objectify women.

We insist in the strongest terms that Cornell create a position for Assistant Dean of Men or a new Assistant Dean of Students to deal specifically with issues of masculinity, gender, race, sexuality, and sexual violence among male-identifying students. Dartmouth and Harvard have similar positions, such a job posting from Dartmouth can be found here. In the interim, we would like to see programs such as A Call to Men, Men Can Stop Rape or another nationally-recognized organization brought to Cornell. We request that training for all genders be highly publicized, mandated if possible (e.g. for all residents of campus housing, as a prerequisite for attending Slope Day, etc.), and supported by the University.

5. Provide comprehensive training on all aspects of sexual violence for campus administrators; campus

law enforcement; disciplinary boards; health and counseling services staff; faculty; staff; and student

leaders that includes the dynamics of sexual violence, access to care, victim response, federal/state

statutes, and rape culture

We insist on evaluating all relevant training programs, such as Respect@Cornell, and student services to determine whether they satisfy our concerns.

6. Develop a coordinated, seamless, survivor-centered response service between campus and community

resources that offers the options of:

• anonymous reporting

• law enforcement involvement

• judicial/disciplinary board actions

• forensic/medical care

• emergency contraception

• academic/housing accommodations

• follow-up counseling, support, and advocacy

We insist approval to anonymously engage in and to evaluate the sexual assault services currently offered for inclusivity, efficiency and fluidity. Additionally, once the work is completed to create a seamless, survivor-centered response, we demand approval by the administration to once again undergo the response system anonymously and provide constructive feedback.

7. Develop educational/outreach programming

We plan to work with faculty on this point and intend to do so in consideration of the demands from last semester, which were created in light of the Sigma Pi hate crime, so that we may operate from a broader anti-oppression framework that is inclusive of but expands beyond the issue of sexual violence.


“A Letter in Support of Assembly For Justice”

We wish to express gratitude to the faculty members who have supported our work. It is extremely encouraging to witness mobilization across campus and heartening to see our professors publicly support us. Thanks to all those who published their name alongside ours; thanks to those who have given us nods of encouragement, intellectual challenges, and inspiration along the way. We hope to work with you in the future to explore the ways in which scholarship can become a place of healing.

First Meeting With President Skorton, VP Susan Murphy, and Mary Opperman recording 9/21/12


Assembly for Justice on Sexual Violence

The Assembly for justice views sexual violence not a series of isolated incidents by as symptomatic of a culture that fosters misogyny, selective impunity, and a sense of entitlement. We wish to express that personal safety is never a bad idea, however, this is irrelevant to the issue of sexual violence at large. Sexual harassment, assault and rape threaten the safety and health of students, but if we wish to address the issue, we must look at the gendered systems of power that facilitate it and work proactively on this systemic level. While  the various initiatives that have cropped up which stress personal responsibility are all good and well, they should not be considered solutions to the problem of sexual assault. The violence that students have endured on this campus is appalling, and it is beyond disturbing that perpetrators have attacked students in public. However, we must recognize that, according to national figures and as many of us know first-hand, most attacks are not reported, and the vast majority of abuse occurs in a familiar setting by someone known to the survivor. If we are serious about a proactive approach to sexual assault, about addressing the issue and not the headlines, we need to move toward a cultural paradigm shift. More police, more self-defense classes, and more blue lights will only do so much. These initiatives may in fact do more harm than good if not paired with a much larger conversation, as a part of a holistic approach, as they risk promoting a misunderstanding of the issue, a misdirected increase in policing, and an irresponsible emphasis on the individual responsibility (and blame) of the survivor.

Attached is an updated list of demands pertaining to sexual violence. AFJ Flyer and Demands

Demands for the Administration of Cornell University

This action has been organized by Cornell University students and Ithaca community members who believe that the Cornell University administration’s response to the recent racist and gendered attack has at best been therapeutic and at worst complicit in perpetuating systemic racism at Cornell University.  On May 6, 2012 an undetermined number of people threw glass bottles and beer cans at a group of African American women students from the roof of Sigma Pi fraternity.  When some of those being attacked responded verbally to their attacker(s) a person on the roof of Sigma Pi invoked the name of Trayvon Martin, Gary Coleman (African American actor) and “Tyrone” to provoke a response from them.  We believe the administration’s response to these hateful acts was insufficient and insulting.  We demand the following from the Cornell University administration:

  1. Take responsibility to end racism and stop putting the responsibility to end racism on students-
  • This is a response to the continued denial by administrators that they are responsible for the bigoted behavior performed by Cornell students and that the responsibility to end such behavior falls upon student activists.  We hold that it is not solely the students’ but everyone in the community’s responsibility to combat racism.  The task especially falls upon those administrators who are paid to make Cornell University a diverse, safe and supportive community and who, as a result of their campus leadership positions, play a critical role in determining the culture of the institution through their daily actions.
  1. Create an Anti-Racist Joint Task Force-
  • The Anti-Racist Joint Task Force would be composed of faculty, staff, administrators and students and would continually analyze and reform Cornell’s policies.  This task force would be responsible for collaborative efforts in constructing many of the subsequent demands.
  1. Require all faculty and staff to undergo ongoing anti-oppression and social justice trainings-
  • We believe that faculty and staff, who create and implement the policy of the school will greatly benefit themselves and the Cornell community by understanding systems of privilege and oppression and how the University policies perpetuate such systems.  An excellent model to consider is the Seattle City Race and Social Justice Initiative.

The above demands are priority and the following demands are unordered and secondary:

  1. Create a Social Justice requirement for all Cornell University undergraduate students-
  • This requirement would mirror the diversity requirement in CALS and could also be a part of the “Freshman Year” that Cornell University is working to improve. Such a requirement would ensure that all students continued to engage in a critical analysis of oppression after orientation.
  1. Create a more efficient Bias Response system-
  • This response system would be similar in format to the “criminal alert system” so that all students, faculty and staff can be made aware of various forms of assault that would place students in immediate danger.
  • This might also be achieved by adding stationary hate crimes to the criminal alert system.
  1. Conduct a Campus Climate Survey-
  • A major task undertaken by the Anti-Racist Joint Task Force, the climate survey should specifically address issues of oppression.  Cornell should join the Cooperative Institute Research Program so that students and faculty can take surveys administered by CIRP, a leading developer and administer of higher education longitudinal diversity surveys.
  1. Be more transparent-
  • Administrators currently make decisions without notifying departments or the University community about these decisions.  This was the case with the demotion of the Africana Research Center, the elimination of the Department of Education and the University’s collaboration with Technion on the NYC Tech campus expansion.  Increasing transparency would put more decision making power into the hands of those who are often victims of such top down decisions.
  1. Eliminate the word diversity from the university’s lexicon and replace it with Anti-Oppression-
  • We believe that it is important for the administration to be explicit about the ways in which oppressions are maintained and reproduced instead of hiding behind empty claims for “diversity” which often lead to demographic statistics when the administration should be addressing unequal relations of power and privilege.
  1. Mandate that all course evaluations contain a section for students to comment on biases experienced in the classroom-
  2. Expand the male/female gender identity section on the admissions application to better accommodate and account for students with non-heteronormative orientations-
  3. Implement online anti-oppression tutorials for incoming first-year students-
  • This would be similar to the alcohol abuse prevention tutorials students are already required to take.