Monthly Archives: May 2012

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.
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