Cornell Black Students' Group Demands Hate Speech Policy, Permanently Banning Psi Upsilon Frat House

Sep 21, 2017

Black Students United silently protested at the University Assembly meeting on Tuesday.
Credit Laura Rosbrow-Telem

Black Students United, a student organization at Cornell University, is demanding the fraternity, Psi Upsilon be permanently banned from campus.

This comes in reaction to a black Cornell junior being called the N-word, and then physically assaulted, sending the student to the hospital. 

Black Students United held a protest Wednesday and delivered demands to President Martha Pollack. The Psi Upsilon alumni board has told the school they’d close the chapter immediately. Cornell banned it last year for conduct code violations.

On Tuesday, Black Students United protested the University Assembly, a committee under the student government, because they want Cornell's code of conduct changed to explicitly address hate speech.

 

Right now at Cornell University Assembly meeting. Black Students United protesting with 25 minutes mostly of silence, want to add harsher hate speech language to Campus Code of Conduct

A post shared by Laura Rosbrow-Telem (@lrosbrow) on

Sep 19, 2017 at 2:02pm PDT

Hundreds of protesters attended the University Assembly meeting. The co-chairs of student group Black Students United, Traci Celestin and Delmar Fears, only had a few words to say:

“Silence is power. Hate speech is not free speech. We will not waste any more emotional labor than we have already lost explaining basic human rights to your assembly. Stand on the right side of history, Cornell. You will give us our time. We are reclaiming our time.”

They had 25 minutes to present, but they finished talking after 25 seconds.

For nearly half an hour, the majority stood silently. Many raised fists in the air.

After some discussion, the university assembly introduced and unanimously passed a motion to amend the Campus Code of Conduct by the end of the year to include hate speech. Right now, the Code of Conduct does not address hate speech explicitly.

But the road ahead may not be simple. The Cornell Daily Sun notes that a similar effort failed a decade ago. Also, Cornell President Martha Pollack would have to approve the amendment for it to become campus law. In the past, she has defended free speech.

Black Students United also wants more coursework on privilege and power, and to convert the Psi Upsilon frat house into a cultural center.