Our first action was organized by Cornell University students and Ithaca community members who believe that the Cornell University administration’s response to the racist and gendered attack was at best therapeutic and at worst complicit in perpetuating systemic racism at Cornell. 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. The Cornell administration responded by holding a superficial community forum in which no one claimed responsibility.
We have observed a pattern on this campus and beyond in which acts of violence are treated as isolated occurrences, unlucky coincidences, rather than products of a culture that encourages complicity, sanctifies liberalism, and simultaneously ignores and reproduces oppressive systems of power. This trend continued in the fall of 2012 as students were welcomed back to campus by a series of racist and homophobic attacks as well as a number of publicly reported acts of sexual harassment, assault and rape. We believe that the administration and student body must begin to look at these acts of violence and hate in their cultural context, recognizing that we all play a role in ending violence and oppression. We are therefore dedicated to working for social justice on the systemic level.