Hundreds of Cornell students rallied at “Stand Together on Ho Plaza” on Wednesday, October 23, in response to several hateful incidents on and around campus.
The most recent happened on October 21, when people reported at least 10 large posters around campus that read “JUST SAY NO TO JEWISH LIES.” The posters reference a “white gang” called the Solar Cross Society, which does not seem to exist according to a statement from Cornell President Martha Pollack.
In mid-September, a verbal altercation in Collegetown became physical after the use of racial slurs derogatory to African Americans.
“You might be a sand n—–, but you’re not black,” a man says in the video below from The Cornell Daily Sun.
Ithaca Police arrested John Greenwood for misdemeanor assault in the incident.
Stand Together was organized by two executive board members of Cornell Hillel, a religious organization.
The goal was to speak out “against bigotry, antisemitism, racism, white supremacy, xenophobia, and all forms of hate,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
Hillel President Brandon Cohen ’18 led most of the rally, speaking about injustices he has both experienced and witnessed in his life. He started a chant saying, “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here.”
“I think this emphasizes the point that we have to stop being bystanders to hatred,” Cohen explained to the crowd. “Just because it’s not impacting you does not mean it’s not impacting your friend and does not mean that you are not perpetuating hatred.”
Response from administration and student organizations
In a statement soon after the posters were found, a collaboration of more than 70 Cornell student organizations condemned the action.
“Today, we were reminded that even ostensibly progressive college campuses are not immune from this disturbing resurgence of fascist attacks,” the statement reads.
Executive Vice President of Hillel Danielle Eiger ’18 said she was moved by the support.
“For lack of like a more eloquent term, our hearts were really felt by that support, and it was really nice to see that come out of such a horrible thing,” Eiger said.
As aforementioned, Cornell President Martha Pollack released a similar statement.
“We will not allow this incident to deter us from our ongoing work to address hatred and bigotry on our campus,” reads Pollack’s statement. “Instead, we will stand strong and stand together to ensure respect, dignity and safety for all our community members.”
On October 11, Pollack announced three co-chairs of a Presidential Task Force to take aim at “bigotry and intolerance” at the University. Each will head a subcommittees on campus experience, regulation of speech and harassment, and campus response to produce final reports by May 1, 2018.
“Only through transparency and community interest and participation will we have a process and outcomes that can truly serve our collective, long-term interests,” Pollack said.
Cornell University Police did not respond to a request for comment about the incident.