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Congress, Cornell president respond to anti-war student protests on campus

Cornell Professor Eli Friedman speaking at a protest held after both letters were published.
Aurora Berry
Cornell Professor Eli Friedman speaking at a protest held after both letters were published.

Cornell President Martha Pollack is responding to the ongoing student and faculty protests on campus that are demanding the university cut ties with weapons manufacturers fueling the war in Gaza. At the same time, Congress is questioning Cornell’s response to the protests, which are intensifying.

In an op-ed to the Cornell Sun, Cornell University President Martha Pollack and Provost Michael Kotlikoff called out faculty members who have supported the protests, which they say have become a disruption on campus.

“Disruptive protests by some trample on the rights of others to enjoy that environment of respectful learning and work,” they wrote.

Anti-war demonstrations have been held on the Cornell campus since the war between Israel and Hamas began in October.

The letter emphasized the need for balance, saying there should be consequences for violating university policies, but that they shouldn’t be overly extreme.

This all comes as the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Jason Smith, sent a letter to Pollack saying “antisemitism remains a serious problem” on campus.

Smith said the protests have created a “disruptive and hostile environment on campus for Jewish students.”

In a prior letter, Smith questioned whether the university should retain its tax exempt status.

He said Cornell has not done enough to discipline protesters and he wants to know how they’ll be punished.

Meanwhile, protests on campus are still happening.

Eli Friedman, a Cornell professor and faculty advisor for Jewish Voice for Peace, said the university is bending to power and that power is bending towards white nationalism.

“Our administration wants Congress to see these students be punished under the false pretense of fighting antisemitism,” he said at a protest.

He said antisemitism is blatant in the Republican party.

“The right is fine with Marjorie Taylor Green’s Jewish space lasers. They're perfectly fine with literal torch wielding Nazis, chanting ‘Jews will not replace us.’”

Protesters say the university isn’t doing enough to address Islamophobia on campus.

It’s unclear how student protesters are being punished. Some say they’ve been called in for disciplinary hearings and others have been arrested by university police for trespassing.

Copyright 2024 WSKG News. To see more, visit WSKG News.

Aurora Berry