Amid rising anti-Semitic activity on campus, a group of Cornell University students took a drastic step on Friday that has reverberated through the academic community and beyond. The students, who are members of the Cornell Coalition for Mutual Liberation, occupied Day Hall, a central campus building, staging a protest against Israel and holding a mock trial which found University President Martha Pollack 'guilty' of complicity in genocide. The protest continued into Saturday, disrupting the study routines of other students preparing for finals.
The Accusations and Demands
The protesters accused President Pollack of having ties to engineering, aerospace, and other technology companies that do business with Israel. They chanted slogans such as 'Cornell is complicit in genocide' and 'Martha is complicit in genocide,' reinforcing their belief that the university's business affiliations implicate it in Israel's alleged breaches of international law. As part of their demands, they called on the university to comply with a student Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolution.
Backlash and Response
The protest has drawn criticism for its interruption of student's preparations for finals and its contribution to a charged atmosphere on campus. This event follows a recent arrest by the FBI of a student who threatened violence against Jewish individuals at Cornell. Despite this arrest, anti-Israel sentiments persist on campus, with the BDS resolution being a focal point of these sentiments.
State and University Action
In response to the rise in anti-Semitic activity, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has ordered increased state police patrols on college campuses. The Cornell Hillel kosher dining hall was also targeted with threats, leading to heightened security measures across the campus. University President Martha Pollack issued a statement condemning antisemitism and pledged to punish those responsible for the threats, thereby reaffirming the university's commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students.