Updated 05/18/2012 10:40 AM
Cornell University community rallies against racism
Cornell students and staff demand change after a group of African American women were attacked on May 6th. Community members joined in a rally Tuesday to show the University they won't stand for what they say is tolerance of racist and sexist acts. Our Katie Gibas tells us what they're fighting to accomplish.
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ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cornell University students chanted while rallying to get across a message that racism and sexism will not be tolerated any longer.
"Somewhere out there, there's a student right now, a black student in Mississippi who got in and is reading this and is like, 'It's not worth it,'" said Dexter Thomas Jr., a Cornell graduate student.
Omar Figueredo, another Cornell Graduate Student added, "Now students, including myself, on top the stress and anxiety of thinking about final exams, final projects and final papers, we're also thinking about how we're not welcome here."
The rally comes after an incident on May 6th when an undetermined number of people threw glass bottles and beer cans from the roof of the Sigma Pi fraternity at a group of African American women students.
"When the actual crime was being committed, the police arrived while they were in the building, yet somehow it has still come up that the assailants are unidentified. I just don't know how that could happen," said James Ricks, an Ithaca resident.
Those rallying say the university's response is inadequate.
"I think too often the response is to be defensive rather than to be proactive and constructive," said Professor James Turner.
Thomas added, "The response hasn't been enough, and I don't think anybody truly believes what the administration is saying. I don't believe it."
The goal of the rally is for immediate change...including the creation of an Anti-Racist Joint Task Force, requiring all staff to undergo on-going anti-oppression and social justice training and create a more efficient bias response team.
"I think it triggered all of us because it happens so regularly and so consistently that it's sort of the needle that broke the camel's back. It's how many times do we have to hear about this. It just happens with so much regularity in small and big ways that we decided that we could not stand by and say nothing," said Paula Ioanide, an Ithaca College Professor.
Cornell University officials say the Dean of Students received the group's demands, which are now under review, and that the incident remains under investigation by the Ithaca Police Department and the university.