Cornell student assembly demands ‘repercussions’ for ‘hate speech’

By Neetu Chandak, Campus Reform

Image: Campus Reform

Members of the Cornell University Student Assembly (SA) are calling for “repercussions” against a fraternity after one of its members was heard chanting “build a wall.”

According to The Cornell Daily Sun, the SA held a meeting Thursday attended by Cornell President Martha Pollack and Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi, during which several SA members agreed that consequences needed to be enacted for “verbal marginalization.”

“It’s disgusting that hate speech like this is not followed up with repercussions,” said SA Representative Mayra Valdez.

SA President Jung Won Kim added that the topic of diversity will be revisited, saying, “sometimes just educating our peers would be a huge step in the right direction to solving the campus climate.”

President Pollack, a proponent of free speech on campus, suggested that such incidents be handled with “things like facilitating conversation, holding the fraternities responsible” and investing “in getting more faculty and counselors of color.”

While some of the SA members want to change the school’s speech codes to prohibit “hate speech,” SA Representative Olivia Corn doesn’t believe that will set a good precedent.

“While I don’t condone what the person said, universities should not be able to punish free speech,” Corn told Campus Reform, acknowledging that while the university is private and can do what it wants, it would be “overstepping its bounds” if it were to begin “prosecuting students for hate speech.”

Cornell has yet to indicate that it will accede to the students’ demands for “action,” but did condemn the incident in an email to the student body.

“I am concerned by what is the continued marginalization of many members of the Cornell community,” Lombardi wrote in the email. “I strongly condemn behavior that is antithetical to our proud history of inclusion, and it is incumbent upon all of us to uphold Cornell’s founding principles.”

A source who wishes to remain confidential, however, told Campus Reform that the individual who started the chants was also from the Latinx community, and was just “joking around and making fun of [President] Trump.”

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