Cornell student gov passes 'hate speech' resolution
Cornell University students hold a sit-in on campus.
Cornell University’s student government recently passed a resolution condemning “hate speech” after two incidents sent the campus into racial turmoil.
According to The Cornell Daily Sun, a Latino student allegedly heard a Zeta Psi fraternity member shout “let’s build a wall around the Latino Living Center,” just days before a black student was repeatedly called racial slurs and assaulted, leading the university to investigate a possible hate crime.
"Some people...say that we need [to] defend free speech, and we absolutely don’t need to do that."
As a result, the Cornell Student Assembly discussed a motion to amend the Code of Conduct to prevent further instances of hate speech, and on Thursday at least 250 students took over another Student Assembly meeting to pressure leaders into reforming current policies surrounding hate speech protected under the campus judicial code.
“For those who are unaware, the University Assembly was responsible for the creation of the campus judicial code,” the Black Student Union declared in a Facebook post. “This judicial code is a key instrument in protecting white supremacists from receiving consequences for using hate speech by declaring their words as an exercise of their freedom of speech.”
Meanwhile, more than 300 students took over an on-campus building Wednesday in a protest organized by the Black Student Union, seeking to “receive justice for the black man who was brutally attacked, improve race relations on this campus, and to see overall positive change.”
Prior to the sit-in, students delivered a set of 12 demands to the school’s administration, among which were the creation of an anti-racism institute, the hiring of additional mental health professionals, and mandatory diversity training for all employees.
Cornell President Martha Pollack was receptive to the demands, saying she is going to “do everything” she can to help.
“I can’t promise there will never be another racist incident,” she said. “This is a scourge across the country, but I’m going to work with all of you to do everything we can.”
On Thursday, the Daily Sun reports that the Student Assembly voted 19-0, with one abstention, in favor of a resolution that would condemn “kyriarchy” and “hate speech” while calling on the university to take action to implement BSU’s demands.
“I’ve seen some people attacking this resolution and going against it to say that we need [to] defend free speech and we absolutely don’t need to do that,” Assemblymember Dara Tokunboh remarked after the vote, adding, “we need to pass this…we’re actually coming together and doing something, a solid concrete thing.”
Notably, the resolution was amended Thursday night to include the name of the the student accused of assaulting a black classmate, even as that case has become more ambiguous than it had first appeared.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the student has profusely apologized for the language he used, but denies physically attacking anyone. The student’s lawyer likewise insists that he was “in no way involved in any physical altercation of any kind,” adding that he did not “commit any crime.”
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