Members of Cornell University’s student government tried to pass a resolution last month that would disarm the school’s police, but the resolution failed.
Following that failure, anti-police activists within the student government worked to expel other members who had opposed the resolution and then held a second vote to disarm campus police, which narrowly passed on December 10, The College Fix reported.
Students said racism was employed by the student government members who wanted to disarm the police, who told numerous white students who spoke ahead of the initial vote that their opinions didn’t matter.
“As a white man, you cannot be the arbiter of what is and isn’t racist and who is a good or bad person. … You will never be the arbiter because you are a white man,” Student Assembly director of elections Moriah Adeghe told a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who spoke at the meeting.
Young America’s Foundation found numerous other instances where race was used to discredit those who opposed disarming campus police.
“The chair of the student government, Cat Huang, agreed to call on minority students over white students after one representative said ‘I want them to like have their voices be amplified before white people start talking,’” YAF reported after looking through hours of footage from student government meetings that took place over the course of several weeks.
Chukwukere told a student that “when a black woman is speaking you do not interrupt her” and, “You are a white man. You cannot tell me how I’m supposed to feel around CUPD.”
After the initial vote failed, members of the student government who supported the resolution circulated recall petitions and held rallies against those who opposed it, removed some of them from subcommittee positions or the assembly itself, and said they were doing it to correct what a “white-cis-het” group had done.
Uchenna Chukwukere, vice president of finance for the Student Assembly, spoke at one of the rallies against the student government members, claiming the 15 members who voted against disarming the police “literally laughed and danced in our faces.”
“These 15 student assembly members watched us pour out our traumas and fears on the floor practically begging them to vote no, and finally send a message to the university that we can no longer allow these oppressive institutions to keep us down,” Chukwukere said at a rally last month.
“Many of these assembly members are white-cis-het men and women who quite literally laughed and danced in our faces when the resolution failed,” Chukwukere added. “Their faces are all over social media,” he added. “We will never forget. … Their campus careers are over. … We must disarm, defund, and disband the Cornell University Police Department.”
As The Fix reported, student government members who voted against the first resolution were also faced harassment and threats, with nonwhite members getting messages that they were traitors to their race.
After weeks of such intimidation, and the removal of student government members using little-known and never-enforced procedures, the resolution narrowly passed, with some members leaving the room to get the number of members below a quorum.
Members of the student government who were attacked for opposing the anti-police resolution wrote a letter to the editor of campus newspaper The Cornell Sun calling the actions against them “authoritarian.”
“These actions are undemocratic, authoritarian and a flagrant abuse of the S.A.’s rules and procedures,” the students wrote. “It goes without saying that these efforts are unprecedented.”
“A vocal minority of the S.A. who believe everyone must think as they do has attempted to strip power from anyone who disagrees with them and browbeat them into silence,” the students added. “Their actions have created a hostile, toxic and untenable atmosphere within the S.A., hampering its ability to function and causing unnecessary anxiety and emotional distress to its members.”
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