Black Students Association Condemns Assault of Cornell Student

Harvard’s Black Students Association published a statement condemning the assault of a black Cornell student last Friday, encouraging students at Cornell, Harvard, and other institutions to support each other in the wake of the attack.

This week, Ithaca Police charged Cornell student John P.A. Greenwood with two misdemeanors related to the assault. A video from the night of the assault depicts several men calling a black student a racial slur, though only one arrest has been reported. Police also charged Greenwood with punching the student.

In their statement, the BSA executive board wrote to support the assault victim and other black students at Cornell.

“The Executive Board of the Harvard Black Students Association vehemently condemns the attackers, and we are calling on the administration of Cornell University to support Black students at Cornell, as well as other students of color that are currently under attack,” the statement, which was published on BSA’s Facebook page, read.

Quoting the statement released by Cornell’s Black Students United, the BSA board wrote, “We are ‘paraded around yet never protected.’ Be sure to reach out to and check on your friends of color at Cornell, here at Harvard, and at other institutions.”

Hasani A. Hayden ’19, the president of BSA, said he felt it would have been “irresponsible” for BSA to neglect to respond to the violent incident at Cornell.

“If it could happen at Cornell, it could happen here at Harvard,” said Hayden.

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of students occupied Cornell’s Willard Straight Hall, a student union building. At the occupation, Cornell’s Black Students United issued a series of demands to the university’s president, including the expulsion of any student found to be involved in the assault and the conversion of the Psi Upsilon fraternity house to a student cultural center.

Nicholas P. Whittaker ’19, a member of the Undergraduate Council Black Caucus, said he is ready to push “for whatever the black community feels needs to be pushed for” in response to the attack at Cornell, but noted that the caucus had not made any decisions yet.

Whittaker said the UC Black Caucus exists “to protect the black students” and is the institutional bridge black students at Harvard can use to raise their concerns with University administrators.

“It’s 2017, we have the science to back up the impact the ways in which mental health can suffer under racism,” Whittaker said. “What I would like to see is a real examination of what the value of hate speech has on our campus. I think we as a community and we as individuals need to realize how much words and dialogue and discourse impact us everyday.”

Hayden said leaders of black communities across the Ivy League campuses are “working to compile information” and “looking for next steps” in the aftermath of the attack.

A comment posted by the Cornell Black Students’ United Facebook page thanked Harvard’s BSA for “standing in solidarity.”

—Staff writer Anna M. Kuritzkes can be reached at anna.kuritzkes@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @AnnaKuritzkes.

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