In a lengthy letter to Cornell University President Martha Pollack last week, members of student group Black Students United hand-delivered a list of demands calling on the school to address recent incidents of campus racism and a culture of white supremacy.
After slamming the Ivy League university for its shortcomings on diversity and inclusion, however, students complained, in so many words, about the disproportionate number of African and Caribbean students on campus compared to African-American ones.
Their demand? That university admissions devise a plan to actively increase the presence of underrepresented Black students on campus, who they define as those who have more than two generations in the U.S.
“The Black student population at Cornell disproportionately represents international or first-generation African or Caribbean students,” BSU wrote. “While these students have a right to flourish at Cornell, there is a lack of investment in Black students whose families were affected directly by the African holocaust in America.”
“Cornell must actively work to support students whose families have been impacted for generations by white supremacy and American fascism,” they added.
In their 6-page letter, BSU also called for the permanent banning of the Chi Chapter of Psi Upsilon Fraternity, Inc. from campus after one of its members was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault for the beating of an African-American student late last month. 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 student group swiftly dubbed the incident a hate crime and demanded that anyone involved in the “heinous” incident be expelled.
“This fraternity has a history of racism, discrimination, disrespect on Cornell’s campus dating back almost 50 years,” they wrote. “… Their members participating in a racial physical and verbal assault on campus is simply despicable. Their racist legacy does not deserve a space on this campus.”
Among the students’ other demands were that all university employees complete ongoing training dealing with issues of identity, that the school hires a position in Engaged Cornell to make sure the university is supporting the Black community in Ithaca and that it create a Minority-Liaison at-large position for the University Assembly.
“We appreciate what has been done already but continue to fight for the betterment of this institution,” BSU concluded. “We implore this administration to act swiftly and stand on the right side of history.”
There’s no word on if Pollack and university leadership will consider the group’s demands.
Students from BSU didn’t respond to requests for comment.