Cornell University Frat Closes After Black Student Assaulted in Possible Hate Crime

Student groups have called on police to treat the incident as a hate crime.

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Cornell University
John Greenwood, 19, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault. (Image courtesy of The Cornell Daily Sun)

A Cornell University fraternity will close “indefinitely” in the wake of an alleged racially motivated attack at the Ivy League school.

Board members with the Psi Upsilon fraternity on Tuesday, Sept. 19, announced immediate plans to shutter the Chi Chapter at Cornell following the arrest of John Greenwood, 19, who was booked on misdemeanor assault charges last Friday, the New York Post reported.

Greenwood, who is white, was busted after he and four or five other students assaulted a Black student in the driveway of his own home. Speaking to The Cornell Daily Sun on the condition of anonymity, the victim said a group of students called him a “n—–” and other expletives before repeatedly punching him in the face after he tried to diffuse a fight that had broken out.

The victim, a 19-year-old junior and member of the Kappa Sigma frat, was a bit bloodied after the attack but managed to walk away with no serious injuries. Now, local police are investigating and said “further charges are pending” as officers work to determine if the assault was racially motivated.

Members with the campus’ Black Students United group already have their minds made up, however, and have called on authorities to treat the incident as a hate crime.

Though Psi Upsilon initially denied being behind the attack, at least four other student groups said a few of the fraternity’s members were involved, according to the New York Post. Ithaca police also interviewed several students who witnessed the attack.

Psi Upsilon’s alumni group maintained, however, that Greenwood “is and never was” a member of the Greek organization. The 19-year-old apologized Wednesday, Sept. 21, for his behavior and the racist language he used during the attack.

In a letter, Cornell President Martha Pollack said the university would not consider the frat’s reinstatement pending the outcome of the investigation.

“For the vast majority of Cornellians who abhor these recent events, our community needs your help,” Pollack wrote. “Please speak out against injustice, racism and bigotry, and reach out to support one another. Ours must be a community grounded in mutual respect and kindness.”

Greenwood is set to be arraigned in Ithaca City Court on Sept. 27.

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