Latinos ask Cornell to punish frat for 'build a wall' chant

Neetu Chandak
New York Campus Correspondent

  • Latino students at Cornell University are demanding that a fraternity issue a formal apology and accept "sanctions" after one its members was overheard chanting “build a wall” within earshot of the Latino Living Center.
  • The administration issued a statement condemning the fraternity over the incident, but have not yet indicated whether Zeta Psi will face any disciplinary actions from the university.
  • A Cornell University fraternity is being pressured into apologizing, and may even face disciplinary sanctions, after one its members was overheard chanting “build a wall.”

    According to The Cornell Daily Sun, members of the school’s Zeta Psi chapter were overheard chanting phrases about “building a wall” and later about “building a wall around the Latino Living Center (LLC),” residents of which initially heard and filed complaints about the remarks.

    "It is essentially a condemnation from the university administration of a political opinion."   

    Meanwhile, La Asociación Latina (LAL) published a statement condemning the comments, saying the LLC community was already under “a lot of duress” following the news of President Trump’s plan to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

    [RELATED: Frat’s construction-themed party called ‘racially insensitive’]

    “To be met with such behavior in one of the only safe spaces on campus is infuriating, and LAL firmly denounces discriminatory speech,” the statement declares, demanding that Zeta Psi not only “issue a formal apology, with signatures from the entire executive board of the fraternity as well as the offending members,” but also meekly accept any “sanctions that may be placed against them and adhere to them strictly”

    Additionally, the statement goes on to demand that all new and current members of Zeta Psi undergo mandatory diversity training, pressuring the Greek-Tri Council, Cornell President Martha Pollack, Dean Vijay Pendakur, and Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi to enforce the demands.

    The Greek Tri-Council, notably, has already issued a statement on the matter, saying it is “committed to [its] principles of diversity and inclusion, and creating and fostering cultures that reject hateful actions.”

    While acknowledging that "statements like these only go so far," the Tri-Council insisted that all members are expected to "conduct themselves 'in a manner supportive of the educational mission of the institution,'" explaining that this includes "not harassing (physical or verbal, oral or written) anything beyond the bounds of protected free speech."

    Similarly, Lombardi sent out a campus-wide email obtained by Campus Reform in which he recognizes “the rights of open expression,” but expresses concern over the “continued pattern of marginalization” that “is antithetical to our proud history of inclusion.”

    Student Jonathan Arnold, however, was concerned with the message Lombardi appeared to be sending, saying he thinks “the email is an attempt to exercise an unusual and improper amount of control over the students” by evoking political “polarization” as a justification for the statement.

    “I don’t recall such an email sent when a conservative student was attacked and assaulted on campus for her views right after the 2016 election,” Arnold added, noting that Lombardi “did not include anything suggesting that the issue was with the rudeness of such comments or the way in which they were said, but only with the fact that they had to do with building a wall.”

    [RELATED: ‘Consent talks’ now required at door for Berkeley frat parties]

    “It is essentially a condemnation from the university administration of a political opinion,” he elaborated, calling such statements “inappropriate and antithetical to our proud history of academic freedom.”

    Zeta Psi National has since issued an apology to the LLC, stating that it’s “disappointing that the disparaging comment was made in the first place,” but adding that it’s “unfortunate that the hurtful statement wasn’t confronted directly at the time of the incident between the students involved—because that’s the civil conversation that needs to happen.”

    Campus Reform reached out to both LAL and Zeta Psi for comment but did not receive any responses in time for publication.

    Follow Campus Reform on Twitter: @CampusReform





    Neetu Chandak

    Neetu Chandak

    New York Campus Correspondent

    Neetu is a New York Campus Correspondent, and reports on liberal bias and abuse on her campus and around the state for Campus Reform. Neetu is a Communications major at Cornell University, where she works with Network for Enlightened Women.

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