Cornell University President Launches Initiatives After Black Student Was Punched, Called ‘Nigger’ by White Students

The 300-block of Eddy Street, where a black Cornell student said he was assaulted and called the N-word early on Friday morning. (Corinne Kenwood / Sun Staff Photographer)
The 300-block of Eddy Street, where a black Cornell student said he was assaulted and called the N-word early on Friday morning. (Corinne Kenwood / Sun Staff Photographer)

Cornell President Martha Pollack issued a series of initiatives on Sunday meant to improve the campus climate following an assault in Collegetown in which a black student said he was called the N-word and punched repeatedly by a group of white students.

Ithaca Police arrested one Cornell student after the fight on Eddy Street at about 1:30 a.m. on Friday. The arrested Cornell student, who has not been identified, was charged with misdemeanor assault and posted bail. Ithaca Police Lt. John Joly said the department is investigating “any racially biased motivation.”

Pollack said in a message to the campus community that Cornell will not consider reinstating Psi Upsilon, which had its recognition revoked in 2016, pending final investigation.

At least four student groups said in separate statements that members of Psi Upsilon, which had its recognition revoked in 2016, were responsible for the assault, although that has not been confirmed. On Saturday, “You Rasist Fucks [sic]” was seen in paint on the Psi Upsilon’s uninhabited former house.

Cornell Kappa Sigma identified the assaulted student, a junior, as one of its members, adding in a statement that the student is recovering from his injuries. The student, who spoke to The Sun from Cayuga Medical Center on Friday, said he was “pretty bloodied up” following the altercation.

He was about to undergo X-rays to test for a concussion when he spoke to The Sun on the condition of anonymity. Those tests were negative.

Pollack said she is convening a presidential task force in the next two weeks that will examine and address “persistent problems of bigotry and intolerance at Cornell” and make recommendations on how to create a more inclusive environment. The list of measures in her email, Pollack said, is only “a starting point.”

Pollack said she is also asking Vijay Pendakur, the dean of students, to create a new dispute resolution process “based on restorative justice” that will coexist with the current disciplinary system and tasking the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils with developing a diversity training program for its members before spring recruitment.

In a video recorded early on Friday morning and obtained by The Sun, two men can be seen arguing with an unidentified student. One of the men uses the N-word multiple times. A witness to that incident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it occurred about an hour after the physical assault. The assaulted student said he was not present for the verbal exchange.

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SOURCE: 
The Cornell Sun