EXCLUSIVE: Cornell tells students if they are 'privileged' or 'oppressed'

Grace Gottschling
Investigative Reporter

  • A Cornell University student says student ambassadors were given an "orientation packet" that told them if they were "privileged" or "oppressed."
  • The packet categorized groups of people based on age, race, gender, gender identity, religion, and education level, to name a few.
  • A Cornell spokesman told Campus Reform that the university "will not be participating" in offering a comment on the issue.
  • Student ambassadors at Cornell University were given an “orientation packet” ahead of welcoming the incoming freshman class. The packet contains a sheet of categories labeling certain groups as having “privilege” or being “oppressed.”

    Campus Reform obtained a copy of the document from a concerned student who felt the content was inappropriate. The sheet outlines social issues and designates certain demographics as privileged or oppressed in a “U.S. Context.” The 15 categories range from gender identity to martial/parental status, education level, and “use of English.”

    If you speak “accented English” you are marginalized or oppressed compared to “‘proper’ English” speakers who are privileged.   

    [RELATED: Ivy League class uses racial quota for enrollment]

    Over the course of three weeks, Campus Reform gave Cornell University multiple opportunities to confirm or deny the packet was distributed. University spokesman John Carberry eventually responded to Campus Reform on Wednesday but did not deny the student's account, saying that Cornell “will not be participating” or commenting on the issue.

    According to the document, if you speak “accented English” you are marginalized or oppressed compared to “‘proper’ English” speakers who are privileged.  If your parents are married or “in a heterosexual relationship” you are privileged while “divorced; LGBTQ parent; domestic partnership” and “single parent” individuals are oppressed.



    If you are “temporarily able-bodied,” you must have privilege according to the sheet as “people with a physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability” are oppressed. The document also lists “age” as a category, ranking those in their “30s to early 50s” privileged compared to “younger and older” demographics.

    [RELATED: College charges student groups to host 'controversial' events]

    Altogether, if an incoming female Cornell student is a racial minority, has an accent, is in their late teens or early 20s, and was raised by a single parent, they are “marginalized or oppressed” in at least five ways despite their background, socioeconomic status, or life experiences.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Grace_Gotcha





    Grace Gottschling

    Grace Gottschling

    Investigative Reporter

    Grace Gottschling is the Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She is a recent graduate of The College of New Jersey and has experience traveling across the country to engage and train others in pro-life apologetics. Grace manages research and Freedom of Information Act records requests for Campus Reform.

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