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Cornell University

Undergraduate School

Mailing Address
300 Day Hall Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853
Phone
(607) 254-4636
Email address
admissions@cornell.edu
School Information
"Cornell is a privately endowed research university and a partner of the State University of New York. As the federal land-grant institution in New York State, we have a responsibility—unique within the Ivy League—to make contributions in all fields of knowledge in a manner that prioritizes public engagement to help improve the quality of life in our state, the nation, the world." Founded in 1865 and located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University identifies itself as a private university with a public mission. The university has 24,027 students and 1,684 professors. (Source: https://www.cornell.edu/about)
General Information
In the summer of 2020, Cornell University announced a series of actions to respond to advocates of critical race theory. A for-credit, university-wide graduation requirement covering “systemic racism, colonialism, bias and inequity” is under development. Additionally, the university announced the creation of an "anti-racism" research center, as well as possible reform of its police department. See developments below:

Actions Taken

Anti-Racism, Bias, and Diversity Training
  • The six-module, “Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Cornell” mandatory course will be launched for staff. Faculty will be required to go through a “required educational program”.
  • Staff will be required to undergo a series of training focused on "Equity" and "cultural competency". The six-part certificate course is called "Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Cornell".
  • The Faculty Senate will be considering a required educational program for faculty, which will be used for accreditation purposes.
  • The Division of Human Resources (HR) is launching an assessment of its "hiring and professional development processes and systems" to retain a "broadly diverse workforce".
  • After a dispute between two faculty members, Cornell Tech promised to "require anti-racism training for all faculty and students," according to media reports.
Curriculum Changes and Requirements
  • A for-credit educational requirement covering “systemic racism, colonialism, bias and inequity” will be developed with some input of DoBetterCornell student group.
  • All faculty will be expected to participate in programming on race, racism, and colonialism in the United States, as well as subsequent discussions within their departments. There will also be an institution-wide themed semester on racism.
  • The Faculty Senate will be considering the proposal for an educational requirement for students which will consist of multiple video modules and discussions.
  • The Faculty Senate voted for three separate resolutions, all of which support a student educational requirement. However, each supported a different type of training. One proposal called for the training to be "developed under the auspices of the antiracism center and different colleges." Another said that it will be developed and delivered by "Africana Studies, American Studies, American Indian and Indigenous Studies, Asian American Studies, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Latinx Studies." The last one "calls for the program to remain in the individual colleges, while giving students an option to take one existing course on race, indigeneity, ethnicity, and bias."
Faculty/Staff Requirements
  • Faculty Senate ended up passing two separate proposals on faculty training. One proposal called for mandatory faculty training. The other called for voluntary faculty training.
  • The university's Office of Faculty Development and Diversity has a "Rubric Assessing Candidate on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion." On the criterion of "Plans to Advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion at Cornell," a "strong" candidate "references ongoing efforts at Cornell and ways to improve and modify them to advance diversity, equity and inclusion."
Program and Research Funding
  • A “center that will promote research and teaching in matters that relate to systemic racism, colonialism, bias and inequity” will be developed by the Faculty Senate.
  • The Faculty Senate will be considering the creation of a new Antiracism Center, which will be a center for both academic research and activism on campus.
  • The American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP) has been conducting research into Cornell's land grant history, as the university received appropriated land from the federal government
  • "...three innovative and collaborative projects were funded that align with institutional objectives of fostering a sense of belonging, promoting fair treatment and supporting the environment of Cornell as a great place to study and work."
  • The final report for Working Group C (Anti-Racism Center) envisioned the center as a hub for scholarship and activism that “creates greater justice and equity on campus and beyond” and as a “programmatic space” which will sponsor “an annual focal theme, a pipeline to-the-academy program, and selected grant-making programs.” Researchers with the center will focus on "the many interlocking forms of racism and bias that are directed at Black American, Indigenous, LatinX, Asian American, and other marginalized and targeted peoples.”
Re-Imagining Policing
  • The Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) will now directly report to upper-level University administration. PSAC will “make recommendations to improve campus security policies and procedures”.
  • The Division of Student and Campus Life has created a "Community Response Team" to respond to "issues of wellness, crisis or distress within campus living environments and will collaborate with the broader campus system of care that attends to the needs of community members".
  • The Faculty Senate, by an overwhelming margin, voted to urge the "Cornell University Police Department will cease to use racial descriptors in CRIME ALERT emails."
Resources
  • The ILR School is offering a new course, entitled, "Diversity and Inclusion: Emerging Trends - Recalibrating Diversity and Inclusion".
  • The Office of Engagement Initiatives is supporting "ONEComposer" and putting on performances of musician whose "contributions have been historically erased". Cornell Orchestras is putting on its "BLM Speaker Series".
  • The Office of the Vice Provost for Research is starting its "Diversity Entrepreneurship Program" in June 2021.
  • The “BIPOC Rock Climbing" class was originally for “people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other people of color," before the course description was changed to state that the class is “designed to enable Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other people of color underrepresented in the sport of rock climbing to learn the sport and to feel included and supported."
  • Cornell offers ASTRO 2034 - Black Holes: Race and the Cosmos. The course description reads, "Surely there can be no connection between the cosmos and the idea of racial blackness. Can there? Contemporary Black Studies theorists, artists, fiction writers implicitly and explicitly posit just such a connection. Theorists use astronomy concepts like 'black holes' and 'event horizons' to interpret the history of race in creative ways, while artists and musicians conjure blackness through cosmological themes and images."
  • Cornell Tech also promised to "bring on a new 'director to focus on cultural issues, especially diversity, equality, and inclusion,'" according to media reports.
  • The university hosted an event titled, "Decolonizing Anti-Racism." The event's presenters suggested "that people of color are complicit in colonization and that anti-racism movements exclude Aboriginal people and perspectives."
  • Global Cornell led and organized "campus conversations, public engagement, and advocacy about racism around the world and the structures that sustain it. We host teach-ins to identify racism and opportunities for change, highlight the diversity of experiences at Cornell, and speak across differences. We build connections by working with a range of campus partners, researchers, and student organizations."
  • During the “How Can WE achieve Racial Justice" event at Reunion 2021, panelists "discussed ways to steer conversation toward meaningful action." According to the webpage, "Meaningful action at the university or in communities beyond must address root causes of inequality, he said: 'It should address what scholars of race and racism have identified as structural inequality and the legacies of historical injustice.'"
Symbolic Actions
  • Anti-Racist initiatives (including research and teaching) will be carried via the model of “shared-governance.”
  • “English Faculty Vote to Change Name to ‘Department of Literatures in English’”
  • The College of Human Ecology announced the launch of its "faculty cohort hire in social justice".
Last updated September 11th, 2022
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