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The CorneÂŹ Daily Sun

Fifty years later:

The Straight Takeover


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The Cornell Daily Sun

Thursday, April 18, 2019


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover The Cornell Daily Sun

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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Letter from the Editors

Reasons for Remembering

We are half a century past the Willard Straight Hall Takeover of April 19th, 1969, when around 100 black and some Latino students seized the most central building on campus during Parents’ Weekend. We are half a century removed from the iconic images of armed students triumphantly walking through those familiar doors, fists and rifles held high. We are half a century beyond the fallout of the Administration’s decision to accede to the protestors’ demands, when faculty from across the University left in disgust and despair. In many ways, Cornell is unrecognizable from the University that existed in 1969. New buildings have sprouted up along the paths on which demonstrators once marched. New courses of study — some likely incomprehensible to the educators of the 1960s — attract thousands of eager learners. The student body looks little like the overwhelmingly white and male population of that era. So many of the individuals who played such major roles then, now only live on in history books and newspaper archives. And yet, every five years we return to that moment in 1969 when Cornell’s racial strife was brought into full relief in a way that seems almost unimaginable now. Why are we compelled to revisit and reflect on the Willard Straight Takeover? Sun editors throughout the past have struggled with this question, and have arrived at similar but nuanced answers. In 1994, on the 25th anniversary, Editor in Chief Paul Johnson ’95 wrote that “The Sun is attempting to remember the events of the Takeover … Because only by facing our racial problems will we put to rest the ghosts of that bitter spring of 1969.” Fifteen years later, in 2009, Editor in Chief Emily Cohn ’10 and Managing Editor Ben Eisen ’10 mused that “we run the risk of oversimplifying the complex issues surrounding the takeover” unless we take “a more comprehensive look at the issues facing us today, in addition to the events as they unfold-

ed in 1969.” And five years after that, Editor in Chief Haley Velasco ’15 noted that “the Willard Straight Hall Takeover is an important reminder that Cornell needs to continue to make issues of inclusion a top priority … Our work is not done.” We wholeheartedly agree with all of the above. It would be naive to think the issues that spurred such drastic action in 1969 have disappeared from our lives. Though we have made progress, we have not yet summited that mountain — we may not even be approaching the peak. This anniversary comes at an auspicious time for Cornell, and for America. We sit squarely in the wake of 2017’s racist assault in Collegetown, the disturbing spate of swastikas found around campus and the elevation of a revanchist Trump regime in Washington, DC. No, our work is not done, and this issue explores how far we’ve come and how we’ve yet to go. But there is another reason, one that was not so present in 1994 or 2009, or even in 2014. Fifty years is an important milestone in the Takeover’s transition from “recent events” to “history.” We are fortunate enough to include the views and recollections of some of the participants themselves, but we recognize that those opportunities grow more fleeting every day. Soon enough, the Takeover will slip from living memory into a written one. So our mission becomes not just one of reflection, assessment and commentary, but one of preservation and communication as well. As we examine the Takeover, we do so for a new generation, one just beginning to take on the world and its challenges. There are students here today for Cornell Days whose parents were not yet born at the time of the Takeover. This issue is for them, just as much as it is for anyone else. Welcome. Jacob Rubashkin ’19, 136th Editor in Chief Anu Subramaniam ’20, 137th Editor in Chief

Natalie Fung ’20 Jacob Rubashkin ’19 Anu Subramaniam ’20 Krystal Yang ’21 Amina Kilpatrick ’21 John Schroeder ’74 Lei Lei Wu ’21 Maryam Zafar ’21 Megan Roche ’19 Sarah Skinner ’21 Sabrina Xie ’21

Keynote Event Justice: A Conversation with Harry Edwards 8 p.m., April 18, Bailey Hall Forum: “Black Studies: Ebony Tower or Unfinished Revolution?” Noon, April 19, Africana Studies and Research Center

• Story of the Takeover

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• Behind the Pulitzer-

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Winning Photograph • Sun Editors Recall

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the Takeover • Sun Headlines from 1969

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• Photographer Fenton

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Sands ’70 Remembers • A Nation Reacts

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• Never-Before-Seen

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Photographs from Inside the Straight • Eric Acree on Activism

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• Jaqueline

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Davis-Manigaulte ’72 on Building Community • Robert Harrison ’76 on

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Shared Governance • Tom Jones ’69 on

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How Far We’ve Come

Special Issue Staff

Happening This Weekend

Inside This Issue

• Cornell’s Racial Makeup

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• Agents of Change

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Documentary • ASRC 4115

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• Shared Governance

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• A Timeline of Cornell

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Building Occupations • Echoes of 1969 in 2017

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A Cultural Remembrance of the 1969 Occupation of Willard Straight Hall 5 p.m., April 19, Africana Studies and Research Center

COURTESY OF CORNELL ALUMNI MAGAZINE

Making history | In the days following the Takeover, thousands of Cornellians congregated in Barton Hall to hear protestors and administrators speak on the Cornell justice system.


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover The Cornell Daily Sun

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Timeline of the Willard Straight Hall Takeover By YUICHI KAKUTANI Sun Senior Writer

This brief timeline summarizes the crucial events that took place before the Willard Straight Hall Takeover. It is based off of decades of Sun reporting on this matter. Until he resigned from his position six years after his arrival, President James A. Perkins presided over an increasingly racially-charged campus that struggled to accommodate the rapid influx of African American students. In 1965, Perkins, a firm believer in racial integration, set up the Committee on Special Education Projects, a minority recruiting program that aspired to make Cornell accept more “qualified students who have been disadvantaged by their cultural, economic and educational backgrounds.” When Perkins arrived on campus, Cornell had fewer than 20 African American students, mostly from middle class backgrounds, out of a student population of more than 4,000. By Fall 1968, the University had 250 African American Cornellians, many from Northern cities and the South. That was a 1250 percent increase. In response to many instances of racial friction, in 1966, some black students founded the Afro-American Society, a predominantly black group that stated it aimed to spread factual information about black history and fight “social, economic and psychological conditions which blight the lives of black people.” In April 1968, roughly 50 AAS members took control of the economics department to protest a visiting lecturer, Father Michael McPhelin, who they said was perpetuating “institutional racism.” While Phelin was not explicitly discussing poor blacks during his lectures, some of the African American students in the classroom argued that he implicitly was, motivating them to demand his removal and replacement by a black professor. The demands went unmet and the students soon vacated Goldwin Smith Hall. In December of that year, seven black students with toy guns caused commotion in the Ivy Room. Two months later in February 1969, in the middle of a symposium on South Africa, two students jumped on stage, one of whom grabbed President Perkins’ collar as he was beginning to explain why Cornell invested in the apartheid country. One month after that, two white students assaulted on the Arts Quad said their assailants were black. The toy guns incident in particular provoked Cornell to impose penalties on those involved. The disciplinary board at the time repeatedly summoned the students, who did not attend the hearings because they considered it illegitimate. The AAS had published a statement in March 1969 denouncing the board for “selective political intimidation,” the absence of black board members and wrongfully judging “political acts directed against the University administration.” The board made their decisions anyways at 2 a.m. on April 18, convicting three black students for physical harassment. The defendants who escaped conviction were all white. Less than an hour after the conviction of the three African American students, members of the Wari House — an off-campus cooperative

established at the request of AAS to accommodate African American women — saw a cross burning on their porch. The next day, black students moved into Willard Straight Hall. Around 5:30 a.m. on April 19, about 100 black students began barricading the exits of Willard Straight Hall, which was hosting Parent’s Weekend guests. By 6:16 a.m., they had evicted all the parents and employees in the building under the coordination of the AAS. The students assumed control of the building in a peaceful manner. As nearly 50 members of the Students for a Democratic Society, a prominent student organization involved in the civil rights movement with branches in many U.S. campuses, surrounded the Straight in solidarity, the University considered obtaining a court injunction to eject the occupants, telling them at 9:15 a.m. that they would be guilty of trespassing if the occupation continues. Twenty minutes later, 20 to 25

fraternity brothers, most from Delta Upsilon, entered the Straight through a broken window. The occupiers almost immediately pushed out the brothers from the building, but soon received reports that some fraternity members “were discussing whether or not to attack us,” Tom Jones ’69 M.A. ’72, a student leader involved in the Takeover, told The Sun. A trustee committee investigating the takeover later concluded that the occupiers had heard several threatening rumors while they held the Straight, including reports that there was a bomb in the building, someone was conspiring to burn the Wari house and a group of drunk fraternity brothers were collecting arms to “get back their building.” These concerns motivated the black students to receive firearms from their supporters outside during the evening of that day. In total, the students armed themselves with 17 rifles and shotguns, along with stashes of ammunition. While guns were not banned from campus at this

point, the introduction of firearms to campus politics shocked President Perkins, who said that it was “a shattering experience. The guns were not justified.” The stalemate persisted into the next morning, when administrators met with an unarmed Whitfield and several other AAS representatives. There, black students said the University had to, among other demands, nullify its conviction of those involved in the toy gun incident and begin an investigation into the cross-burning at Wari House. The negotiation continued until 2 p.m. when Whitfield agreed to soon leave the building. At 4 p.m. on April 20, the AfricanAmerican students left the Straight to cheering crowds, still equipped with bandoliers and firearms. In addition to agreeing to investigate the cross burning and recommend the nullification of the toy gun incident convictions at a faculty meeting, the University agreed to help the students find legal help if

they later faced civil charges, but declined to pay for it. In turn, the students agreed to help build a new judiciary system that AAS would consider legitimate. Forty professors threatened to resign if the charges from the toy gun incident were nullified. It took an intervention from Perkins to have the faculty agree to rescind the reprimands. Several professors and administrators still resigned. Perkins also resigned several weeks after the Takeover after alumni and faculty criticized his handling of the occupation. An impromptu group composed of thousands of faculty members and students in Barton Hall began discussing a wide range of issues from racism to academic freedom. The group helped reform the student judiciary system and set up Cornell’s first shared governance institution, the University Senate. Yuichi Kakutani can be reached at ykakutani@cornellsun.com.


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover The Cornell Daily Sun

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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Behind the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photograph By AMINA KILPATRICK Sun News Editor

In April of 1969, Steve Starr was a young photojournalist working out of the Associated Press’s Albany office. He had graduated from college in San Diego, spending his later school years working as a full-time photographer at the local newspaper. Starr originally got into photography in highschool when his school newspaper, where he served as editor, did not have a photographer. This translated into a life-long love of photographing moments and people, working full time as a college student for the local news paper and extending his undergraduate time to five years. The years paid off because Starr was immediately hired by the Associated Press, a national news organization — his dream. After interning in the New York office for his first year, Starr was sent to Albany. Prior to the Willard Straight Hall Takeover, he had seen many college campuses and their protests. The 1960s marked a tumultuous time in American history as young people protested the war in Vietnam, the ongoing Civil Rights Movement and increasing diversity on college campuses. “Because I am young and available all the time, I was the photographer they sent to demonstrations. I had been to Yale, it seem[ed] like I was doing a demonstration every single month.” Students pushing back against the administration was not foreign to Starr. “You really have to live into 1968 and 1969. In 1968, Martin Luther had been assassinated, Bobby Kennedy is assassinated, This crazy guy Nixon is elected … it’s almost hard to explain,” he said. On the morning of the Takeover, Starr got a call notifying him to get to Ithaca — immediately. He was told there were guns on campus, something he had not experienced at other student protests. He spent most of his time in the Cornell Public Relations office, learning information sparingly as they wished to share it as the situation escalated. However, once Starr was tipped that there were guns on campus, he was stunned.

Starr likened the revelation to seeing spaceships — that was how unbelievable the notion was. “Our basic reaction was, you got to be kidding,” Starr said. Once Starr saw one guy with a gun and was able to verify that a least a portion of the tip was true, he sprung into action. Unlike the other protests Starr had covered at the time, there was the introduction of the weapons. “To have guns on campus, had never happened at that point. There had never been guns in a black protest, it would run counter to the MLK non-violent narrative,” Starr said. “The reporter and I are very much aware of that and we are discounting the fact that there are guns. “ On Sunday, the day the students finally left the building, Starr positioned himself and caught the first moments of students leaving the Straight. Immediately that night, Starr sent the photo through the Associated Press wire service to news organizations across the country. A viral image was born. The widespread impact of the photo was in large part due to Starr’s affiliation with the Associated Press and the mechanism they had to share information. Similar photos taken of the situation did not get the same reaction. Starr believes the photos had such a great impact due to the incredulity of guns on campus for a protest. “My take is that to white America, the notion that blacks are going to fight back was an electrifying and terrifying moment,” Starr said. “You all add in the fac-

Capturing history | The Steve Starr Pulizer Prize winning Straight Takeover photo was the basis of this May 5, 1969 Newsweek cover.

tor that these particular black folks are admitted to an elite Ivy League university — why the heck are they carrying guns and fighting back?” The social environment at the time largely shaped the public’s reaction to the image, Starr said. “There is this whole 1960 narrative that the country is coming unglued and there is violence and racial demonstrations everywhere,” he recalled. “At that particular time, the picture electrified the country.” Fortunately for Cornell’s situation, the students and the administration worked to deescalate the situation before it led to bloodshed. On the day Starr received his Pulitzer for the award-winSee PULITZER page 12

Sunnies Recall The Sun’s Coverage of the Takeover

SUN CLIPPING

Sun leadership |Stan Chess ’69, left, finished his term as editor in chief shortly before the Takeover. He was succeeded by Ed Zuckerman ’70, right. Vivian Lam ’69, middle, served as business manager. By MARYAM ZAFAR and AMINA KILPATRICK Sun City Editor and Sun News Editor

As national reporters from the country’s leading papers flocked to Ithaca, student reporters found themselves both under spotlight and thrust behind the pen. A departure from The Sun’s typical campus role, during the times surrounding the black students’ occupation of Willard Straight Hall, the newspaper was no longer reporting only for the Ithaca community. “It was just so exciting. You were at the center of the world,”

Stanley Chess ’69 said. Chess, who was a senior at the time of the Takeover, had finished his term as editor in chief a few months before, reflected on the whirlwind of The Sun’s newsroom fifty years later. “You’d be sitting there, working on a story, and next to you was a guy named Homer Bigart who was one of the famous reporters of the time from The New York Times,” Chess recalled, chuckling. “And he was working on the same story you were working on in the same newsroom, next to you.” On April 20, 1969, when the

famous front page was printed, the bylines of the reporters were students who were as young as sophomores, tasked with accurately communicating a rapidly-unfolding event to the country. When working on stories, student reporters would head down to the Colonial Building in what is now the Ithaca Commons, producing a daily print paper while also enrolled in classes — technically. “We didn’t go to class a lot,” Chess said. During the events of the takeover, Brian W. Gray ’71 M.A. ’74 noted that he was

“clued out” from the issues at hand and was mainly focused on getting good shots. At the time, there was no digital photography and you couldn’t tell how your photos turned out prior to developing them. “I didn’t realize there was this black discontent … I was surprised at it,” Gray shared. “The black movement wasn’t particularly high on my radar.” He served as the Photography Editor at The Sun during the takeover. Prior to the events of the takeover, Gray was had previous experience covering protests of the Vietnam War and even was tear gassed in Washington, D.C. At the time, while covering racial tensions, The Sun’s news team was staffed primarily by white students, Chess said, which made finding and maintaining reliable sources difficult. “I don’t remember if there was a black reporter,” Gray recalled. As a result, the news team incorporated an unusual source of information. “Some woman called me up on The Sun when I was Assistant Managing Editor,” Chess recalled, and offered him a perspective on a story that was going to be printed in the paper. In hindsight, Chess realized that her perspective had been accurate.

Over time, through intermittent phone calls with the newsroom when notable events occurred, Chess said he and the news team continually used information that she provided, and never printed her name. He said that he could not recall her name fifty years later, and that he never met the

“You’d be sitting there, working on a story, and next to you was ... The New York Times.” Stan Chess ’69 woman, before or after his time at Cornell, but that he knew her name and that she was a black student at the time, and she offered insight and a perspective that The Sun did not have a source for. “That was the contact that we were able to get information into The Sun that we would not have been able to get otherwise,” Chess said. The published information was not contested, to Chess’ recollection. “It was a gamble,” Chess said, but “we had no choice.” Sometimes, the news came at See SUN page 7


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover Page 6

The Cornell Daily Sun

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Looking Back at The Sun’s Coverage of the Takeover, Subsequent Events On April 19, 1969, more thn 50 black students marched out of Willard Straight Hall ending their three-day occupation of the building. The Unversity was forever changed by those events and there are lasting effects 50 years later. The Sun documented many of those changes in real time as shown below. Explore the Takeover as explained by The Sun’s front pages, headlines and news stories.

Initial reactions | Days of stories about the Takeover were published.

Consequences | Cornell Faculty

Shocking revelations | Tom Jones ’69, one of the last individuals to leave Willard Straight Hall, carries three different levels of weapons. This image shocked the nation as using guns during student protests was relatively unheard of at the time.

intially took to punishing the students involved in the Takeover. At the time their position was very controversial.

Change of heart | President James Perkins was recognized for his part in removing penalities for involved students.

Resignations | In the years following the Takeover, many faculty members resigned as a result of limited judicial consequences.


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover The Cornell Daily Sun

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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Fenton Sands ’70 Documented Black Student Life at Cornell By AMINA KILPATRICK Sun News Editor

Fenton Sands ’70 shared his photos — often documenting the black community because other people weren’t — with The Sun, offering a unique vantage point into the Takeover through the eyes, and lens, of a black student at Cornell from the time. At the time of the Takeover in 1969, Ithaca was relatively isolated from major news outlets. Until the famous photo of students walking out of Willard Straight Hall with guns was published on front pages across the country, few photographers were documenting the Takeover. Sands, however, was. He was a known student-photographer at the time, and Sands’ photos had appeared in The Sun multiple times when he was a student at Cornell. During the takeover, Sands was inside the building. He documented the life of students and the actions before the events themselves. Unlike other photographers, his familiarity with his fellow students could be seen in the casualness of the subjects in the photos. Students are smiling and posing, and many appeared unbothered by

the presence of the camera. “Black students knew I took a lot of pictures,” Sands told the Sun. “They weren’t bothered or threatened by me taking pictures because they were so used to that.” “That clearly would have made a big difference,” Sands added. After the Takeover, international news outlets reached out to Sands to share these photos. While Sands obliged, COURTESY OF FENTON SANDS he told The Sun that Black life | Fenton Sands ’70, editing techniques above, is taking a photgraph were used to mask the identity of indiduring his time at Cornell.

viduals presented in Life Magazine. In the years following the Takeover, the question of punishing students for their participation was not decided. Several students had been indicted by New York State. Sands shared his photos on the condition of students not being recognizable out of fear that they would be used as evidence. Additionally, Sands has since shared his work in the 2016 Agents of Change film. The photos showcase not only what happened after the students left the building with guns but also the planning that led up to the decision. Sands graduated from Cornell in 1970, a year after the Takeover, with a degree in Agricultural Economics. He received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Agricultural Economics. After that, he spent decades working for United States Agency for International Development following in the footsteps of his father, who also attended Cornell. Amina Kilpatrick can be reached at akilpatrick@cornellsun.com.

A Look Into the National News Coverage of the Occupation By KATHRYN STAMM Sun Staff Writer

The Willard Straight Hall Occupation — described in 1999 by former professor Thomas Sowell as “the day Cornell died” — symbolized an era of national change and turmoil, full of questions about race. As the country turned their attention to the events unfolding in Ithaca in the following weeks, major news organizations often painted the event as violent and centered their narratives on the resulting white fear. Pictures of armed black students marching across campus plastered national newspapers, underscored by headlines about a violent crisis, likening the occupation to a battle in a war. However, when the black occupants initially entered the Straight, they were unarmed and no one was reported injured. On April 19, 1969, at 5:30 a.m., approximately 100 African-American students occupied Willard Straight Hall, ejecting 40 staff members and 30 Parents’ Weekend visitors by shouting “Fire!” The Sun previously reported. This occurred in the midst of one of the most racially difficult times on the Hill. In the fall of 1968, there were 250 black students on the campus of 14,000 — an increase from fewer than 20 in 1963. The occupation was largely a response to various racist incidents on campus that year. The Phi Delta Theta fraternity charged some

black students to attend a dance without charging white students a fee. In response to an “intolerably hostile atmosphere of the dorms,” the University created a black woman’s co-op, called Wari House. The day before the occupation, a flaming cross was found on their porch. Though the occupants entered unarmed, they sought protection in the form of obtaining 17 rifles and shotguns from black students outside the Straight between 9:45 and 10 p.m. This came as a response to rumors that white fraternity brothers were planning to attack. Following the arming of the students, the University administration began negotiations, first over the phone with Edward Whitfield ’71. On April 20, 1969 at 4:13 p.m., the front doors of Willard Straight Hall opened. Students emerged after occupying the building for 35 hours. The 110 black students — some with ammunition strapped to their bodies and carrying rifles and shotguns — then marched through the Arts Quad to the AAS headquarters on North Campus to sign a seven-point agreement responding to the campus issues of race. This is where the Newsweek story began: at 4:13 p.m., after the first 35 hours of the occupation and the prior months of racial unrest. Further, the picture most associated with the event in nationwide publications was of the students exiting the building to sign.

Taken by Associated Press photographer Steve Starr, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph was often paired with captions and headlines describing the students singularly as armed. The May 5, 1969 edition of Newsweek — a weekly magazine whose editions featured the prominent news stories of that week — offered the caption “Universities Under the Gun: Militants at Cornell” with that picture, on the cover. “Armed Negroes End Seizure, Cornell Yields,” read The New York Times frontpage article headline on April 21, 1969. The New York Times also focused on the physical aftermath of the event, despite the fact that the only injuries were minor, and a result of a fist-fight that broke out when white fraternity members attempted to break back in, before the guns arrived. “The Negro students left the litter of their occupation in Straight Hall,” it reported. “Mattresses and cushions had been pulled into the cafeteria where most of the students slept. In the Memorial Room, some high light fixtures had been ripped out, several candy machines had been rifled and walls bore slogans like ‘Kill the fraternity honkies’.” The Newsweek article follows its description of the students “some draped with bandoliers and carrying an arsenal of seventeen rifles, shotguns and homemade spears” with the reaction from a white student. “When they stepped out and I saw the ammunition on the belts and the rifles, my

heart dropped to my toes,” Lawrence Terkel, a white Cornell senior, said to Newsweek. “This profound consternation was shared by almost everyone associated with Cornell — the faculty, the students, militant and uninvolved, parents and alumni,” Newsweek continued. “Moreover, it radiated beyond Cornell to every other U.S. campus and indeed beyond the universities to U.S. society as a whole.” Ultimately, Newsweek glossed over the roots of the occupation in offering an explanation to why the black students armed, undermining the fear of attack by their white classmates. “Others, with a psychological bent, held that the blacks were mainly on a self-fueled ‘ego trip,’ and were asserting their masculinity — and no doubt there was some truth in that, as well,” it reported. At least half of the occupants were women, though — a detail that escaped many major outlets’ reporting — according to Juanita Goss ’72, one of the participants. Ultimately, the media response to the Willard Straight Hall occupation — its sentiment that the event was violent, catastrophic, and perhaps unnecessary — is summed by Newsweek. “The traumatic events at Cornell took place in a week when the U.S. campus seems to have turned into a national battleground.” Kathryn Stamm can be reached at kstamm@cornellsun.com.

‘We Didn’t Go to Class a Lot’: Sun Journalists Share Their Takeover Experiences SUN

Continued from page 5

unexpected times. On the day of the takeover, Gray initially learned of the events during a night of partying. He recalled he was “a little bit incapcitated” and sent a photographer to capture the fraternity students trying to break into the Straight. Gray was the photographer behind a different set of iconic shots of the events, although his version did not win the Pulitzer Prize, while the Associated Press’ photographer did. The difference between The Sun and the prizewinning photograph was that in Gray’s photograph hangs the “Welcome Parents” banner, fossilizing the memory of the fateful parents weekend in his image. He also captures the first students walking out the building with guns

in their hands. Gray recalled taking this photograph, and said he ran out of film that day because he was taking photos of his friends earlier on. After Gray graduated, he left the field of journalism. One his main reasons was how he felt that he was merely an observer of events, and could not contribute to direct action. “One of the reasons I quit journalism in the end was I felt that I spent all this time on the outside as a dispassionate observer and I was focused on not being involved [and] that was not something I wanted for the rest of my life,” Gray said. “That’s why I became a lawyer.” Chess didn’t recall ever receiving heavy criticism for The Sun’s coverage of the takeover, but also noted that it was a time when there was generally more trust in the

media, unlike today. “In fact I understand from The ring,” Gray told The Sun. “These “Nobody prepared you,” he things have never happened before New York Times article that was said, about the contentiousness and we didn’t have these mass there about 10 years ago, one of and tensions surrounding his time shootings that happen now.” the black guys has the picture I at Cornell, but that was the only When reflecting, Gray noted took framed,” Gray noted. “I have college experience he knew. that there were things he might never spoken to any of them that I During his time at know of, I never spoke to Cornell, some of his “I wasn’t afraid. I never feared that there them at the time.” classmates were drafted Gray attributed this was going to be some kind of horrible sense of distance to his into the highly-controdecision to quit journalversial Vietnam War, violence occurring.” protests and sit-ins were ism and become a lawcontinual, a cross was yer. He feels his current Brian W. Gray ’71 burned on the grass outwork in Canada, has given him more of an avenue for side and he witnessed action than journalism. a surreal moment as his class- have done differently. “I was very naively unpolitical. “You don’t control your imagmates holding rifles walked out of Willard Straight Hall — where he I had worked for the Smithsonian es, you don’t control what people would later live for a short period institution for two summers. I was take from them,” Gray said. focused a lot of that, not on the of time. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime politics of anything.” The Sun, Gray said, could have Maryam Zafar and Amina event,” he said. “I wasn’t afraid. I never feared been more proactive in its report- Kilpatrick can be reached at that there was going to be some ing and reached out instead of mzafar@cornellsun.com and akilpatrick@cornellsun.com. kind of horrible violence occur- simply observing.


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating T The Cornell

Thursday, April 18, 2019

INSIDE THE OCCU

Fenton Sands ’70, One of the Afro-American Society Members Who Took O Stu dents cross th e former Triph ammer Bridg e over Fall Creek towards central campu s, Edward L . Wh itfield ’7 1 in th e lead.

Afro-AmericanSociety stu dents leave 3 2 0 Wait Ave. inth e early morning of Satu rday, April 19, 196 9.

Occu piers watch as campu s police (th enk nownas th e Safety Division) beg intog ath er ou tside.

Stu dents for a Democratic Society members, defending th e Tak eover, circle th e once-famou s Stu mp (wh ere colorfu l campu s event messag es were painted by stu dents each morning ).

Rainfalls as th e stu dents pass by Rand Hall (seen at u pper rig h t). L EFT PHOTO: Oth er Cornellians simply mill arou nd th e occu pied bu ilding , discu ssing and debating th e day’s events.

A Ivy Room scene captu res some calm moments. ABOVE: A g rou p of occu piers confer inwh at was th enth e second-floor Straig h t Game Room.

Stu dents wield mak esh ift weapons — inclu ding clu bs made from Willard Straig h t Hall g ame room billiard cu es — todefend th emselves ag ainst any fu rth er incu rsions intoth e bu ilding . Photo spread design by John Schroeder / Sun AlumniAdvisor BEL OW: Not every moment with inth e Straig h t was tense; meals were prepared and eaten, cards were played, and th ere were evenoccasions for lau g h ter.

ADJUSTED FOR TOWANDA PR


The Willard Straight Hall Takeover

ll Daily Sun

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UPIED STR AIGHT

Over the Straight in 1969, Shares His Insider Photos of History Unfolding The co lu mn o f marchin g stu den ts — passin g by a hu g e American elm tree tru n k — prepare to en ter Willard Straig ht Hall.

On ce in side, the stu den ts secu re the do o rs. Eric D. Evan s ’6 9 is seen here at the rig ht.

A stu den t treats a head in ju ry that resu lted fro m a fig ht between whites who had en tered the Straig ht an d the black o ccu piers. THIS IMAGE ONLY:RICHARD A. SHULMAN ’71 / SUN FILE PHOTO

Du rin g the n ig ht — fro m Satu rday even in g u n til Su n day mo rn in g — Afro -American So ciety members mo n ito red an d g u arded all Straig ht en tran ces. Here, a sin g les reco rd player helps pass the o vern ig ht ho u rs.

Abo u t a do zen white stu den ts, mo stly fro m the Delta Upsilo n fratern ity, en tered the Straig ht, “ju st to talk ,” they later claimed. Bu t the black o ccu piers reg arded it as an in vasio n , an d fo rcefu lly repelled the white stu den ts. Here, after the expu lsio n , an ashtray stan d is thro wn o u t the win do w, fo r g o o d measu re.

Photos by Fenton Sands ’70 (with o n e labeled exceptio n )

L EFT PHOTO: After g ettin g ready to leave the bu ildin g o n the first day, a warn in g was expressed at the meetin g seen here that g o in g o u t mig ht su bject the stu den ts to attack . So the g ro u p decided to spen d the n ig ht in the Straig ht.

RESS (TO BE RUN AT 98.5%)

L EFT: As ru mo rs spread that white stu den ts were plan n in g armed assau lts, the black o ccu piers cho se to brin g in g u n s. Here, the g ro u p g athers in the Straig ht lo bby o n Su n day mo rn in g , April 2 0 , preparin g to march o u t. RIGHT: After exitin g the Straig ht, the pro testers march acro ss the Arts Qu ad, acco mpan ied by Co rn ell Safety Divisio n o fficers. BEL OW: The march en ded at the slo ped fro n t lawn o f 3 2 0 Wait Ave., where a seven -po in t ag reemen t between the black stu den ts an d the admin istratio n wo u ld be sig n ed.


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover The Cornell Daily Sun

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Any Person, Any Study: The Takeover and Student Activism Eric Acree Eric Acree is the Director of the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library at the Africana Studies & Research Center.

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he takeover of Willard Straight Hall on April 19, 1969 by dozens of black and a handful of Latino students was a direct outgrowth of the Civil Rights, black power, black arts and black student movements of the 1960s. In her book, The black Revolution on Campus, Northwestern Professor Martha Biondi wrote, “Black student activism exploded in the spring of 1969. It was the high-water mark of the black student movement, with militant actions and mass confrontations at campuses across the country, most notably at the University of California, Berkeley; Cornell University; Harvard University; Rutgers University; and Howard University.” The militancy that Biondi wrote about was simply black students demanding to be treated with dignity and respect and being placed on an equal playing field with whites. It is important to keep in mind that during the 1960s America was racially divided. This was drilled home in the Kerner Commission report commissioned by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which famously warned that America was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” This racial divide played out at Cornell well before the events of April 1969. One such example can be found in the Economics Department in the spring of 1968. black students felt that a visiting professor in that

department was teaching with a racist approach. After the students exhausted every avenue to have their grievances heard, they had a sit-in in the department’s offices to protest this faculty member, ironically on the same day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. These two events would lead to the forming of a committee to look into the creation of a Black Studies department, and would eventually result in the founding of the Africana Studies & Research Center. But even before the establishment of the Center, it is important to point out that black students expected Cornell to live up to the words of Ezra Cornell: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” A letter written by Andrew Dickson White would also show that the founders of Cornell strove for a diverse student body. When asked by an associate if Cornell would accept a black student, White responded, “I would say that we have no colored students at the University at present but shall be very glad to receive any who are prepared to enter … we should receive him even if all our five hundred white students were to ask for dismissal on that account.” These words by both Ezra Cornell and A.D. White are significant, and upon reflection helped laid a foundation of student activism at Cornell, activism that sought to hold each successive University administration to the ideals espoused by the founders themselves. The actions of the black students who occupied Willard Straight Hall were a powerful — and necessary — continuation of that legacy of activism. In the film Agents of Change, filmmakers Frank

Dawson ’72, who participated in the occupation of the Straight as a freshman, and Abby Ginzberg ’71, who stood in support of the occupation as a member of Students for a Democratic Society, captured not only what happened at Cornell but most notably concurrent events at San Francisco State College. One

The actions of the black students who occupied Willard Straight Hall was a powerful — and necessary — continuation of that legacy of activism. of the telling parts of this documentary is the footage of Edward Whitfield ’72, then president of the AfroAmerican Society at Cornell, when he announced that the Straight had been taken over because of Cornell’s racist attitudes and irrelevant curriculum. As we move forward, it is important for us to embrace the legacy of the occupation and to continue to dialogue about how we can enhance the educational experiences of all students, and develop a relevant and engaging curriculum at this institution. Eric Acree is the Director of the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library at the Africana Studies & Research Center.

Reflections on Cornell — 1969, Today and Beyond Jacqueline Davis-Manigaulte Dr. Jacqueline Davis-Manigaulte ’72 was a freshman and member the Afro-American Society at the time of the takeover.

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s was mentioned in the documentary Agents of Change, I was looking forward to the adventure of going to school away from home in the fall of 1968. I immediately loved the beauty of the Cornell campus and was fortunate to have a great roommate — in fact we still keep in touch. I quickly made friends with all the students of color — our freshman class had the largest group of African-American and Latino students ever admitted to Cornell. However, in my courses there were never more than one or two African-American students, and sometimes there were none. With limited support from faculty or teaching assistants, there were many times when I felt invisible (and most of the classes were really large, which was also overwhelming). But I was a top student in high school and was determined to succeed at Cornell. So, I put in a lot of time at the library, found a solid study buddy, worked hard and actually graduated with honors.

It was a challenging time, especially for many African-American students who were experiencing difficulty dealing with faculty and courses that excluded or misrepresented African-American culture and history. These issues resulted in several demonstrations and the historic takeover of Willard Straight Hall in the spring of 1969. I participated in these events, as well as additional demonstrations when the first Africana Studies Center was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1970. Through these traumatic experiences I learned about the importance of standing up for issues that are important to you and your community. The first Africana Studies Center at 320 Wait Avenue served as a place to obtain knowledge about AfricanAmerican history and culture, and also as a place to connect and feel a true sense of belonging; we all need places where we feel grounded and can recharge to pursue our goals and dreams. The Africana Studies Center did that for me and my peers — it was a vital part of my existence at Cornell. It is where I got the support and validation — my home away from home. The establishment of the center was an indication that the University realized the need to invest in the success and well-being of African-American students.

By my junior year, a large number of students of color formed United Black Artists and shared their talents and creativity through a campus theatrical production entitled “To All Things Black and Beautiful,” under the direction of Professor Chestyn Everett. Between studies, we rehearsed in the evening and on the weekends to create a very high quality production that included highlights from renowned African-American poetry, plays, music and dance. The production was well-received by our peers, the Cornell and Ithaca community, and was replicated the following year. This experience reflected the need for Cornell to intentionally establish more bridges and supports for students of color as well as opportunities for engagement and interaction throughout the campus. By the time my son Khalil arrived on campus in the early 90s there were more supports. I had wanted him to be in a supportive learning environment, not experience the isolation and limited support I encountered at Cornell, and so he initially attended Morehouse College in Atlanta. However, he was already familiar with Cornell; he had attended several 4-H campus learning experiences, including a summer course through the Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth

LARRY BAUM / SUN FILE PHOTO

320 Wait | Following the Takeover, armed students stand outside 320 Wait Ave., soon to be the home of the Africana Center. This building would later be destroyed by an April 1970 fire.

Development Program, and had come to CBAA reunions with me over the years. And so, after a year at Morehouse, he made the choice to transfer to Cornell. By then, the University had established additional vehicles to support the interest of students of color such as the Third World Student Program Board, in which he participated as a member and officer, and other groups such as black Student Union and the National Association of Black Engineers. He also resided in Ujamaa, which provided a rich and supportive environment in which he thrived. Now there many additional programs that support students of color and other special interest groups. Today, there are still demonstrations, sit-ins and rallies because there continue to be new issues and challenges we must face. As a society and a university, we take steps forward and back. What is required is that the University continue building bridges to understand, respect and provide opportunities for all members of the Cornell community. Some of today’s issues include mental health, sexual assault, ongoing micro-aggressions, unconscious bias, navigating first-generation experiences, and questions of divestment. Campus and community outreach initiatives such as Scholars Working Ambitiously to Graduate or SWAG, the black women’s support network SISTERS, Breaking Bread and Engaged Cornell are examples of the many efforts currently underway that may help address some aspects of these issues, realizing there no quick fixes – it’s a learning and growing process for all. We are making progress, even though we still have quite a way to go. Hopefully, when my grandson arrives in a few years, his experience will be one where he can pursue his studies in an environment where he is at ease, engaged and fulfilled. Dr. Jacqueline Davis-Manigaulte ’72 was a freshman and member the Afro-American Society at the time of the Willard Straight Hall takeover. She is a Senior Extension Associate with Cornell University Cooperative Extension in New York City where she serves as the Director of Community Relations and Program Leader for Family and Youth Development.


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover The Cornell Daily Sun

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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The Occupation’s Legacy: Community Representation, Shared Governance Robert S.Harrison ’76 Robert S. Harrison ’76 is Chairman of the Cornell University Board of Trustees.

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lthough I was only a freshman in high school when the Willard Straight Hall occupation made national news, activism on the Cornell campus was still an energizing force when I arrived in the fall of 1972. Protests continued over many societal issues in the early 1970s, most prominently the country’s continuing involvement in the Vietnam War, which resulted in a student takeover of Carpenter Hall just a few months before I began my freshman year. But between those two building occupations, other developments were underway that led to what I believe are two of the most constructive, transformative and lasting outcomes of the Straight episode of Cornell’s history. The first is a university commitment to shared governance. In the immediate aftermath of the Straight occupation, the Constituent Assembly was created, comprising several hundred students, staff and faculty elected and empowered to recommend changes in the way “the university governs itself.” Its recommendations, reflecting the postStraight campus mindset, included a fundamental shift of the University’s approach to decision-making with regard to non-academic matters, from what was a traditional, administrative-centric model to one that included the meaningful involvement of a governing body of student, faculty and non-faculty employee representatives. The Constituent Assembly soon evolved into the University Senate, as the former’s recommendations were implemented. For the first time in Cornell’s history, shared governance had been legitimized, with authority delegated to the Senate by the trustees. Precisely because the Senate was a representative group with meaningful responsibilities, it served as a magnet for talent, attracting world-class faculty like Geoffrey Chester, Michael Fisher and Mary Beth Norton; legendary employees like George Peter; and committed students like me. A lot has changed since then, as that initial shared governance structure has evolved into the representative bodies we have today: the Student Assembly, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, the Employee Assembly,

the University Assembly and the Faculty Senate. While the jurisdiction of the current assemblies is different, the importance of constituent representation and two-way communication, the University Senate’s legacy, remains. Listening to community input — and taking it seriously — is now deeply ingrained in the behavior of the administration and the Board of Trustees. Since becoming chairman in 2012, I have invited the presidents of the assemblies to join us at board meetings, and leadership of the board meets with leadership of the assemblies during our visits to Ithaca for face-to-face, give-and-take sessions. A second positive and lasting outcome of the Straight occupation is the inclusion of student, faculty and employee representatives on the Board of Trustees. Prior to that time, the board was predominantly comprised of alumni from the fields of business and finance. It was a rather insular, self-perpetuating club whose understanding of issues facing the campus was largely derived from presentations by the university administration. In an effort to inject a dose of representative democracy into the board, the Constituent Assembly recommended that community-elected trustees be added to the University’s governing body. Since 1971, Cornell has embraced faculty-elected and student-elected trustees as full voting members, and since 1975, employee-elected trustees have also been included. None of our Ivy League peers has any community-elected board members. I served as a student trustee in the mid-1970s, and I have served as an alumni and board-elected trustee since 2002. I believe we make better decisions because student, faculty and employee trustees attend board and committee meetings and participate in all significant discussions and decisions, including invaluable service on presidential search committees. They serve as two-way communication channels, which was sadly lacking during the events leading up to the 1969 Straight occupation, and they ensure that board decisions take campus priorities, sensitivities and reactions into account. Importantly, they also view their role the way

all trustees must — as fiduciaries — with the long-term best interest of the entire university always in mind. This is not the way it was in the early days of community-elected trustees. When I was a student trustee, community-elected trustees were often aggressively partisan representatives of their constituencies. This should not be surprising, given that community representatives suddenly found themselves with seats at the table where university policy was made, quite soon after so much societal upheaval, particularly on the Cornell campus. I remember two student trustees who sued the University, and another who leaked confidential board materials to The Cornell Daily Sun, to advance their views of student interests. These actions made good headlines, but they eviscerated the credibility, trustworthiness and effectiveness of those student trustees in the boardroom. Since my return to the board in 2002, I have never had any doubt about the credibility or trustworthiness of any community-elected trustee. When the board is in Ithaca, leadership regularly meets with groups of students organized by the student trustees around important campus issues. Recent gatherings have included first-generation students, transgender students, program house leaders, teaching assistants, student athletes, Greek system representatives, students with disabilities and student political leaders. These sessions ensure that trustees hear unfiltered feedback about what’s working and what needs to be fixed. Cornellians will continue to debate many aspects of the controversial events of April 1969 for many years, but there is no doubt in my mind that one beneficiary has been university governance, which is more participatory, diverse, transparent and better-informed than it has ever been.

Two of the most constructive, transformative and lasting outcomes of the Straight episode of Cornell’s history: university commitment to shared governance and constituent-elected trustees.

Robert S. Harrison ’76 is Chairman of the Cornell University Board of Trustees. As an undergraduate, he served as Speaker of the University Senate and a student trustee.

Tom Jones ’69 Reflects on the 50 Years After the Takeover Tom Jones Thomas W. Jones ’69 was a spokesman for the Afro-American Society at the time of the Willard Straight Hall takeover.

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ifty years ago I was an angry young man in my senior year at Cornell University. Mentally and emotionally I was prepared to be one of those African-Americans who would meet my destiny in a struggle against oppression and injustice that was much larger than any one of us, and even much larger than all of us. I thought we were the generation fingered by history to draw the line on America’s ill treatment of its black population. It had to stop with us, in our time. As I reflect from the perspective of 50 years on the events at Cornell University in April 1969, I feel both regret and pride. I have regrets regarding the individual toll of those events. I’m sorry at the individual level of the people who were hurt. That includes black students who were traumatized; President Perkins who became the scapegoat for the wrath of angry trustees, faculty and alumni; and professors and their families who were frightened by my angry rhetoric and the spectre of armed students on campus. But I’m not sorry at the institutional level, the broadest of which is the events at Cornell in the context of the racial discrimination and oppression and violence against African-Americans which was common in America at that time. I’m proud that we black students armed ourselves and said, in effect, “we are the generation of African-Americans who will not be intimidated by vigilantes.” The les-

son here is that some life situations do not lend themselves to simplistic judgements of who was right or wrong. Sometimes it’s not either right or wrong, it’s both. I was right in April 1969 because our cause was just in fighting a racist society. But I was also wrong because my tactics caused harm to some individuals. I’ve wrestled my entire adult life with this moral ambiguity of April 1969 at Cornell University. We should remember that 50 years ago America was still engaged in an unresolved battle to secure equal treatment for black Americans in public accommodations, employment, housing, voting, and other civil rights. De jure segregation was enshrined in the law in many states, and de facto institutional discrimination was the social norm throughout America. The petty discrimination of being denied access to public facilities was intended to dehumanize African-Americans, and to proclaim every day that we were different and inferior. The systemic institutional denial of economic opportunities ensured that African-Americans remained poor and powerless. Each previous decade of American history was more brutal in its treatment of the black population. That’s why I’m proud that my colleagues and I had the courage to say that the oppression and intimidation of African-Americans would stop with our generation, and we were prepared to fight about it. The purpose of reciting this history is not just to remind us of where we have been, but also to focus on how far we have come. There is no point in suffocating our potential for today and tomorrow with irreconcilable animosity over the grievances of the past. The burden is too heavy,

and we cannot change the past. That’s why I believe that just as a family cannot heal unless it lets go of yesterday’s anger, so all Americans of every race and creed and ethnicity should be open to reconciliation and healing, otherwise we will never achieve our full potential as a multiracial, multiethnic, and religiously diverse democracy. Historical reflection also seems to make an undeniable case that AfricanAmericans, other minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community have widespread educational, economic, and social oppor-

erty among African-Americans. But we should acknowledge and celebrate the truth that for every incident of racial violence against African-Americans which occurs today, the frequency of such incidents was proportionately 50 times greater 50 years ago, and one 100 times greater one 100 years ago! We should acknowledge and celebrate the truth that many millions of African-Americans have lifted themselves out of poverty into the middle class and even higher. We should acknowledge and celebrate the truth that de jure discrimination against AfricanAmericans is no longer enshrined in American law or the judicial system. So even as I am acutely aware of how far we have yet to go, I am enormously thankful for how far America has come in the past 50 years. I hope America continues this progress and becomes a country which respects and celebrates our diversity within the context of overarching bonds of community.

As I reflect from the perspective of 50 years on the events at Cornell University in April 1969, I feel both regret and pride. tunities today which are unprecedented in American history. Does this mean that America has overcome its historical problems? Of course not! The legacy of hundreds of years of slavery and the related physical and psychological barbarity against African-Americans created a scale of human misery and dysfunctionality which cannot be reversed or healed in just 50 years. But is America moving in the direction of civic equality and equal opportunity — unequivocally yes! This in no way diminishes the important work that Black Lives Matters and other groups do today to bring attention to ongoing police and vigilante violence against African-Americans, and widespread pov-

Thomas W. Jones ’69 was a spokesman for the Afro-American Society at the time of the Willard Straight Hall Takeover. After graduating Cornell, he went on to serve as chairman and chief executive officer of Global Investment Management at Citigroup, president and chief operating officer of TIAA-CREF, and as a member of the Cornell Board of Trustees. He is the author of a memoir, From Willard Straight to Wall Street, published by Cornell University Press.


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover The Cornell Daily Sun

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Birthed University Senate Racial Composition of Takeover Voting body was 1969 Constituent Assembly proposition Cornell Over the Years GOVERNANCE

Continued from page 14

True in spirit to Ezra Cornell’s famous words “any person … any study,” Cornell enrolled its first student of African descent, a man named William Bowler, in 1869. However, further years would reveal a different picture of diversity on campus. In 1969, 93 percent of undergraduate students enrolled at Cornell’s Ithaca campus were white, according to data provided by Cornell and published in the Fall 1970 edition of Racial and Ethnic Enrollment Data from Institutions of Higher Education. Only 690 students, or 7 percent of the student body, identified as students of color. At the time, the Ithaca campus was home to 9,861 undergraduates. There were 307 black students, 202 American Indian students, 125 students of Asian descent and 56 “Spanish surname” students enrolled as undergraduates. Of the 360 students pursuing undergraduate medical degrees at the time, all but 19 were white. The medical college was, in total, home to 95 white students and 2 students of “Spanish surname.” Only 9 of the 452 students studying in the law school were people of color. In fall 2018, 36.3 percent of Cornell’s undergraduates were white, while 44.7 percent identified as students from a minority background. The remaining 19 percent of undergraduates included all international students and students of “unknown” race. Last fall, the 66 percent of graduate and professional students who were not international included 30 percent white students, 17 percent minority students, and 9.1 percent students of unknown race. -Compiled by Sarah Skinner ’21

A.P. Photographer Shares Experience Covering Takeover PULITZER

Continued from page 5

ning photograph a year after the takeover, four students were murdered at Kent State during the Vietnam War protests. Kent State was a reminder of what Cornell could have been. Starr maintains, though, that the important part of the story are the people and the situation in the photograph, not the photographer. “I am the messenger not the message,” he said. “It is a civil rights story, it is a black guy story.” As Starr looks back on his career and the Takeover, he addressed — and lamented — the current state of journalism stating the photographers and journalists. “How in the world you are going to report the news? Visual journalists are going to have an influence in this radically changed environment where everybody in the world can take a picture and video, newspapers are contested as fake; newspapers are dying.” Tom Jones ’69, a black student who participated in the takeover, is the subject of a photo in which he raises his fist in a black power salute. He told The Sun that he was conscious of the image he was creating and the actions he was

taking. He purposefully was the last person leaving the building, carrying three levels of weapons, giving the image that he was ready to fight. “I was very conscious of the symbolism of the photo in the context of the Straight that caused us to bring in the guns. It was only after the vigilantes from Delta Upsilon that came into the Straight. They were going to throw us out,” Jones said. “It was only then that we are going to throw out the guns. That’s what the Ku Klux Klan was, it is vigilantes came into the Straight. They were going to throw us out. It was only then that we brought in the guns,” he continued. Jones emphasized how black people have been terrorized for centuries, and said that the statement he wanted to make was that there was a new generation of black people that would not be terrorized. “The black power salute — we are the generation of African-Americans that is not going out be intimidated. That’s what I was feeling, and that’s how I looked in the photo, they captured it perfectly.”

Amina Kilpatrick can be reached at akilpatrick@cornellsun.com.

dents to serve as voting members of its board. The number of student trustees later decreased to two after the board downsized from 62 to 42 in 1981. The board later increased in size to 64, and today, two student trustees — one undergraduate and one graduate — are elected by the student body in alternating years. Though the Senate had power throughout the 1970s, it was replaced with the Campus Council by the Board of Trustees in 1977. The Council, whose primary job was to advise the administration, was made up of 16 members — seven students, seven faculty and two employees. Records from this era demonstrate a general discontent with the Campus Council, which lacked the power the Senate once had. A Sun editorial said the council had “about as much impact as a goose-feather on the decision-process.” In 1981, after a special committee reviewed campus governance and proposed alternative forms, the Campus Council was replaced by the system still in use today, with the creation of the Student, Employee and University Assemblies. The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly later split from the S.A. in 1993. In addition to increased student involvement in university governance, the takeover created vast changes in the judicial system on campus. As part of the AAS demands after the takeover, the Cornell administration agreed to “[devise] a new judiciary system to promote justice on Cornell’s campus for all members of the student body,” according to the text of the agreement. Before 1969, the faculty held primary control over the disciplinary process in the Faculty

Committee on Student Conduct. Following the Takeover, however, the Long Commission, appointed by President Dale Corson to review the judicial system, proposed several changes to the system to make it more inclusive of students. The proposal outlined the establishment of the University Hearing Board, which was made up of four students, four faculty, two staff and one administrator and would hear discipline cases. It also proposed the creation of the University Review Board, consisting of two faculty, two students and an administrator, to hear appeals. The University Hearing and Review Boards still exist today in similar forms to oversee the Campus Code of Conduct, though the size of the boards have decreased — the Hearing Board now has five members, while the Review Board has three. The Long Commission also proposed the appointment of a judicial administrator to investigate violations of the Regulations for Maintenance of Public Order and the Student Code, a position which still exists today with a similar role to investigate violations of the Campus Code of Conduct. The creation of the Constituent Assembly, the first decision-making body to include both students and faculty, led to the current shared governance system and student trustees. Based on the demands raised by the AAS during the Takeover, the judicial system at Cornell was restructured to include students in the disciplinary process, prompting the creation of the University Hearing and Review Boards, which still preside over disciplinary action on campus today. Vale Lewis can be reached at vlewis@cornellsun.com.


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover The Cornell Daily Sun

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Agents of Change Documentary Explores Takeover By AMINA KILPATRICK Sun News Editor

Agents of Change, the documentary released in 2016, focuses on two stories of student activism at San Francisco State University and Cornell University. The 1960s featured an era of protests reflective of the shifting times, including the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war. College campuses appeared ill-equipped to deal with the needs of rising black populations. Frank Dawson ’72 and Abby Ginzberg ’71 co-directed and co-produced the movie, a documentary that details the development of the Willard Straight Hall Takeover. Dawson and Ginzberg began working on the film in 2009. Dawson was a black freshman during the takeover inside Willard Straight Hall as events unfolded while Ginzberg was a white student outside the building as a member of Students for a Democratic Society. Dawson initially wanted to create a feature film in the 1980s, but was finally able to realize his goal in the 2000s. Ginzberg, on the other hand, had a career of making films of social justice issues and this topic was close to her and an important story to tell. The pair had not met prior to creating this documentary despite being on campus at the same time for three years and both playing a role in the takeover. According to Ginzberg, the two were introduced by a mutual friend after she expressed her interest to tell this story and Dawson wanted to do the same. “The collaboration between Abby and I was important,” Dawson told The Sun. Although the partnership commenced in 2009, it took seven years to complete the film due to funding issues. According to Ginzberg, “neither of [them] got paid,” for their work on the film. One of the logistical problems in documenting the Cornell takeover was the lack of video footage according to Ginzberg. In contrast to the four TV stations in San Francisco covering the development of their campus events, Ithaca was very remote. “In Ithaca, there was no TV news station,” Ginzberg told The Sun. “Ithaca was a complete desert when it came to news.” Ginzberg and Dawson were reliant on the photos provided by Fenton Sands ’70, who was a prolific documentor of black student life at Cornell. “If it had not been for the photos COURTESY OF ABBY GINZBERG

Connected through film | Abby Ginzberg ’71 and Frank Dawson ’72 attended Cornell at the same time, but met years later through their interest in telling the story of the Takeover.

taken by Fenton Sands, I do not know how we would have taking away the “voice” of students to speak directly, … [had] any help in terms of photos to tell the Cornell according to Dawson. Additionally, Dawson’s mother called him during the story prior to the students taking over the straight,” Ginzberg said. “His photos were [a] huge help in terms of Takeover, worried about what she had seen on the national news. Dawson said she did not believe what he was telling documenting the story we are trying to tell.” Ginzberg went to a diverse public high school at her. “My mother did not believe her own son over someManhattan. Going to Cornell was a culture shock for her with the decreased diversity. The lack of diversity one she did not know, only because they were on televiat Cornell was one of the reasons she sion. That’s power,” fought alongside the black students, she “I don’t think any of us going in to that Dawson said. said. Alumni have had building thought we were having a Additionally, the summer prior to the strong reactions to takeover, she saw first-hand as Columbia conversation about it 50 years later.” the film. Dawson students fought against the university screened the film for Frank Dawson ’72 moving into Harlem in 1968. This also the classes of 1972 primed her for student activism. and 1973, and he Since she was a trusted and active said many alumni member of SDS by the time the takeover occurred, were surprised to see how the events went down. Ginzberg was one of the white students who was called at One alumnus shared with Dawson that they didn’t 6 a.m. to help out. understand why black students “kept to themselves” and For Dawson, the takeover was “a defining moment of were so “angry” at the time, but now understood because [his] life.” of the film. “I don’t think any of us going in to that building Since the film is about events that took place five thought we were having a conversation about it 50 years decades ago, many people were hearing about this story for later,” Dawson said. “I don’t know that we knew at that it the first time. According to Ginzberg, they have been able would be recognized in the way that it was.” to show the film at many different college campuses and The Takeover was more than just a life-defining it garnered different reactions as students shared struggles moment for Dawson, though, as it also helped shape his of their own. professional career. Through his participation he recogAt the University of Chicago, after seeing the film, nized the power that the media had and sub- students shared their experience with dining hall hours sequently changed his focus to broad- not being accessible to students on financial aid. Ginzberg recounted that many students said they would go hungry casting and media. At the time, a radio station on the weekends, unable to afford meals not in dining operated out of Willard halls. At the historically black Spelman College, the women Straight Hall. During the there were able to empathize with the fight the black stuTakeover, the dents had over their education by drawing from their own radio waves experiences. At California State University, Bakersfield, were shut students from the large Latinx population were fighting o f f , for a Chicanx studies program similar to black Cornell students’ fight for a black studies program. “What students are suffering from are different,” Ginzberg noted. “At every school there was some issue.” For Dawson, one of the most powerful moments came from a screening of the film done at Broward County Community College. One student was moved to tears by the film, overwhelmed with emotion by the hard work students went through to institute black studies programs, according to Dawson. “Our goal with this film is to have it inform all students, particularly at Cornell but at all universities, that there was a really empowered students movement that led to all [these] changes,” Ginzberg said. Amina Kilpatrick can be reached at akilpatrick@cornellsun.com.

Africana Studies Professor Offers Class About Takeover ASRC 4115 explores the legacy of the Straight occupation and black student activist movements By HUNTER SEITZ Sun Assistant News Editor

This fall, students will have the chance to take a class titled ASRC 4415: The Willard Straight Takeover and Legacy of Black Students, covering the events of the famous Willard Straight Hall Takeover and the effect it had on the black student activist movement both at Cornell as well as across the country. The course is taught by Prof. Riché Richardson, African-American literature, and fall 2019 is the third time it will be offered at Cornell. It was previously offered in spring 2017 as well as spring 2018. Richardson was first inspired to create the course in 2010, when she attended a panel for the 40th anniversary of the Takeover. The panel featured Prof. Emeritus James Turner, African and African-American politics and social policy, and Gloria Joseph, assistant dean at the

Sun in an interview. “I couldn’t be more time of the Takeover. After thoroughly planning and model- pleased.” The course centers on the Takeover as, ing the course, as well as consulting various colleagues and friends, she finally decided according to Richardson, it helped galvato offer it for the first time in the spring nize a wave of new student activism. semester of 2017. “Cornell was founded on a fairly revoAccording to lutionary vision — the Richardson, the course “We start by thinking idea of ‘any study any has historically been person ...’ Cornell has about the impact of “very diverse,” attracting not always lived up to various student lead- slavery, and the making those ideas. [The Willard Takeover] really ers across campus. The of higher education.” Straight put pressure on Cornell course is taught in workto live up to its highest shop format, where stuProf. Riché Richardson ideals. It has continued dents produce their own relevance because the projects and research as moment mirrored proopposed to attending lectures and discussion sections. tests in so many other instances across the “They’ve produced astonishingly inno- country. The lack of inclusion some felt vative projects that really represent an here really paralleled the marginality and archive in and of itself ... they’ve gone in exclusion that some have experienced in so many fascinating directions with their the United States itself,” Richardson said. However, the course is not solely individual projects,” Richardson told The

focused on just the events of the Takeover, but rather a more extensive look into the history of activism both at Cornell as well as the United States as a whole. Richardson gave some examples of projects the students have produced, such as short films about the Wari House cooperative, studies about food insecurity in the Ithaca area and studies about allyship. “We take the long view of Cornell, a long look at its history as well as the black student experience in higher education in general. We aren’t just talking about Willard Straight. We start by thinking about the impact of slavery, and the making of higher education,” Richardson said. The course will be offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:55-4:10 p.m and can be found on the course roster under the code ASRC 4115. Hunter Seitz can be reached at hseitz@cornellsun.com.


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover Page 14

The Cornell Daily Sun

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Shared Governance at Cornell Rooted in Takeover By VALE LEWIS Sun Staff Writer

Though 50 years have passed since black students occupied Willard Straight Hall to protest unjust treatment on campus, Cornellians today are still impacted by what resulted from the takeover — a system of shared governance and a student-involved judicial system. Before 1969, students had little to no say in campus governance. Members of the faculty were the sole decision-makers in academic and non-academic decisions until 1955 when the Board of Trustees gave the President the responsibility of non-academic decisions but continued to exclude students. Though student government technically existed at Cornell prior to 1969, it had very limited or only symbolic power. Just 10 months prior to the takeover, the Cornell Students Association abolished itself, leaving Cornell without any form of student government at all. However, in the days following the takeover, thousands of students and administrators met in Barton Hall to discuss racism on campus. The meetings lasted

several days and eventually the conversation turned to discussions about student representation in University governance. This brought about the creation of the Constituent Assembly, a 367-member assembly made up of students, faculty and administrators, whose sole purpose was to “investigate and make recommendations for the redistribution of power,” The Sun reported in 1969. “It was the first time that students and faculty served as equals at Cornell and it was the first time that employees and other special interest groups were represented in a Cornell decision-making body,” according to a 1974 article in The Sun. After months of research and deliberation, the Constituent Assembly, which had grown to 380 members after the inclusion of freshman representatives, proposed the creation of the University Senate, which would have full legislation over the university judiciary system, campus codes of conduct and the academic calendar. After passing by a vote of 204 to 21 in the Assembly in December of 1969, the University Senate was recognized by the Board of Trustees in April of 1970 and convened

for the first time the following academic year. Until 1977, the Senate, made up of 132 members including 60 students, had unprecedented power on campus. It dictated the budgets for housing, dining, athletics and student life departments, for example. Any budgetary changes over $3,000 had to be approved by the Senate. A 1981 editorial in The Sun called the University Senate “one of the most progressive and powerful campus governments in the country,” because of its vast legislative responsibilities. As one of its first actions, the Senate created a two-week recess before the 1970 general election so that students could volunteer for election campaigns without missing classes. 1971 also saw the first four student trustees on the Board of Trustees, after the Constituent Assembly proposed the addition of students, faculty and employees to the board at the same time that it proposed the creation of the Senate. Cornell remains the only Ivy League school that allows stuSee GOVERNANCE page 12

Occupations Throughout Cornell’s History

Carpenter Hall, 1972: Hundreds of anti-war demonstrators seize Carpenter Hall to protest “Cornell’s complicity in the war machine,” singling out the Aeronautical Laboratory’s work with the Defense Department. Five days later, they leave when a judge issues an injunction against them. Day Hall & Admissions Office, 1976: Almost 200 black students occupy Day Hall for 10 hours to protest the firing of assistant financial aid director Herbert Parker. Earlier in the day, students had briefly occupied the University Admissions office at 410 Thurston Ave. Johnson Museum, 1978: After Board of Trustees chairman Robert Purcell ’32 says in an interview with The Sun that black students need to “integrate into the white man’s world,” and that Cornell might consider phasing out the Africana Studies center, 200 students blockade the Johnson Museum, trapping President Frank Rhodes and several trustees inside. The crowd disperses after Rhodes has a heated — and at one moment physical — conversation with Africana Studies Center director James Turner. President’s Office, 1981: Seventeen students occupy President Rhodes’ office after Cornell announces an 18 percent tuition hike. On Rhodes’ orders, armed Public Safety officers in riot gear eject the students. The tuition hikes are passed by the Board of Trustees the next day as hundreds of students rally outside Statler. Day Hall, 1985: Over the course of two weeks, hundreds of students conduct a sit-in in Day Hall to demand an end to Cornell’s continued investment in Apartheid South Africa. Cornell Public Safety officers arrest over 900 students. McGraw Tower is briefly occupied as well. Day Hall, 1991: Over 200 Cornellians, primarily black and Latino students, barricade and occupy Day Hall for 15 hours to protest proposed cuts to financial aid — which students feared would disproportionately affect minority students — and the ongoing search for a director of the Hispanic American Studies Program. After the protest, Cornell commits to maintaining current levels of aid, and replaces the chair of the search committee. Day Hall, 1993: Over 100 Latino students, under the leadership of Eduardo Peñalver ’94 (now dean of Cornell Law School), occupy Day Hall for four days. Sparked by vandalism of an Arts Quad art installation, the protest called for improved Latino recruitment, admissions, aid and other policies, and eventually led to the creation of the Latino Living Center. Willard Straight, 2014: A group of students calling themselves the Ad Hoc Committee for Student Democracy take over a Student Assembly meeting in Memorial Hall. The Committee was protesting the S.A.’s decision the previous week to indefinitely table a resolution calling for Cornell to divest from companies doing business in Israel. Willard Straight, 2017: After a black student said he was assaulted by white students using racial slurs in Collegetown, 300 protestors led by Black Students United deliver a list of demands to President Pollack in Day Hall, and then march to Willard Straight Hall, which they occupy for several hours. - Compiled by Jacob Rubashkin ’19

1972

ROBERT W. BOLLENBACH / SUN FILE PHOTO

| Anti-war protestors exit Carpenter Hall on May 1, 1972, after State Supreme Court Justice Frederick Bryant issued an injuction against them.

1976

ROBERT SIMON / SUN FILE PHOTO

| Two students force open a locked Day Hall window on April 19, 1976.

DAVID BORAKS / SUN FILE PHOTO

1981 | Students, includ-

ing student trustee David L. Russo, peer out of President Rhodes’ occupied office.

DAVE BOCK / SUN FILE PHOTO

1985 | Public safety drags a protesting student out of Day Hall. The anonymous man with the fancy hat was one of almost 1000 students arrested in two weeks.

DOUG LITTMANN / SUN FILE PHOTO

1993 | Occupying protestors, led by now-Law School Dean Eduardo Peñalver ’94 (not pictured), rally supporters assembled outside of Day Hall.


The Cornell Daily Sun

Thursday, April 18, 2019

We Covered Cornell Then. You Cover Cornell Now. The Cornell Daily Sun of 1 9 6 8 -6 9 Sends Its Best To The Cornell Daily Sun of 2 0 1 8 -1 9 A Sunster Remembers the Straight Takeover BY S TANLEY D. C HESS ’69 It was a very different world. It was post-Hefner and pre-AIDS. After Dallas and before Kent State. Beyond hootenannies and well before the Apple II, let alone the World Wide Web. Engineering students, including this writer, carried K&E slide rules in orange cases on their belts as they marched off to ROTC classes. Cornell women had curfews, and, on the rare days and during the limited hours when women were permitted in the men’s dorms, the rule was “three feet on the floor, matchbook in the door.” Nobody on campus seemed to talk about the stock market, housing prices, or how much we’d earn in the “real world.” As far as we were concerned, Cornell was the “real world.” Autumn 1965 may have been the last time at Cornell when the entering freshman class was comprised largely of virgins. And this included the men. It was a very different world. In this climate, things began to change high above Lake Cayuga. September 1965 erupted with “Perkinsville,” a makeshift tent city in the middle of the Arts Quad, named after the University President against whom the protest was directed. The Cornell campus was no longer the sleepy Ivy League of the 1950s. No more white bucks and Dobie Gillis. This was the 1960s, and Cornell was coming alive with sitins and protests, building takeovers and occupations. We seemed to protest everything. We fought to protect the language in The Trojan Horse, the campus literary magazine. Many of us wore either of two buttons. One said, “I Am Not Yet Convinced That the Proctor Is a Horse’s Ass.” This was reported in The Sun, after much debate, as “I Am Not Yet Convinced That the Proctor Is [Similar to a Horse’s Hindquarters].” The other button said simply, “I Am.” Two things had the greatest impact on Cornell in the 1960s. Foremost was the war in Vietnam. The other was the major effort, led by Cornell President James A. Perkins, to bring black students to what was essentially an all-white campus nestled a safe 250 miles from America’s urban problems. More than anything before or since, the Vietnam war polarized the campus and seemed to dominate every discussion and every decision. As freshmen we had been scared by the bogus front page of The Cornell Sun announcing the end of student draft deferments, with the headline telling us: “Freshmen to Go First.” Fortunately, we didn’t. Instead, we sat for the national draft exam, an SAT-like aptitude test where the brighter you were the less likely you were to serve your country. Later we sat transfixed as the lottery replaced the test, and numbers were drawn determining our fate. In front of the Straight and seemingly everyplace else on campus, we heatedly debated the validity of the war. In the dorms and in Collegetown, Cornell men sat around debating our own futures — whether we’d flee to Canada, apparently never to return, or whether we’d stay in the States, burn our draftcards, and face imprisonment. Or perhaps we’d incapacitate ourselves to avoid the draft. The most popular proposed incapacitations were feigning homosexuality at the physical exam, drinking high-octane coffee by the quart prior to the exam, or physically immobilizing some essential body part. Many of us pondered which of our 10 toes we would shoot off for the greater good of not serving in a war in which we didn’t believe and that we certainly did not want to fight. It was in this context that urban black students were introduced to rural Cornell University. They were not prepared for Cornell, and Cornell, preoccupied with the war, was not prepared for them. Most students, both black and white, began their Cornell experience with the best of intentions. The class of 1969 even elected a black student as our freshman class president, and Tom Jones, later a Cornell trustee, served well. But the polarization created by the war, exacerbated by the growing discomfort felt by the black students, led to anxiety, then separation, then controlled hostility, then the burning of the cross (which was falsely blamed on white students), then the forced expulsion from the sleeping rooms at the Straight on Parents Weekend, then the effort by some whites to reclaim the Straight, then the bringing in of the rifles, then the famous picture on the cover of Newsweek, then the Barton Hall circus, then one of the most prestigious universities on the face of the earth brought to the brink of collapse under the threat of our former class president Tom Jones that it had only hours to live. Then the rebuilding — where Cornell barely escaped disaster but is still marked by the scars of what happened in that relatively short-lived, but very different world. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Stanley D. Chess, A.B. ’69, J.D.’72, is CEO of LawTV, Inc., and President of The Cornell Daily Sun Alumni Association. In 1968-69, he was editor in chief of The Sun. He can be reached at schess@lawtv.com.

Page 15


Fifty Years Later: Commemorating The Willard Straight Hall Takeover Page 16

The Cornell Daily Sun

Thursday, April 18, 2019

In 2017, Black Student Protest Echoes 1969 By NICHOLAS BOGEL-BURROUGHS Sun Senior Writer

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Sept. 20, 2017. Hundreds of black students marched into Cornell University’s Willard Straight Hall on the afternoon of Sept. 20, 2017, and occupied the building for several hours after delivering a list of demands to the University’s president in a protest reminiscent of the 1969 takeover of the same building. More than 300 marchers, led by Black Students United,

“This is an act of racial violence happening on campus again. This isn’t new.” Delmar Fears ’19 silently climbed three flights of stairs in Day Hall and handed a list of demands to President Martha Pollack, who had met with BSU earlier in the day. The protesters, the majority of whom were black and most of whom were people of color, were responding in part to the reported assault on Sept. 15, 2017, of a black Cornell student who said a group of white men called him the N-word and bloodied him by repeatedly punching him in the face in Collegetown. Two weeks prior to the occupation, a resident of the Latino Living Center reported hearing chants of “build a wall” from a nearby fraternity, Zeta Psi. Ithaca Police arrested John Greenwood ’20, a 19-yearold white student, within hours of the altercation and he was ultimately charged with three misdemeanor charges, including attempted assault as a hate crime. He struck a deal with the district attorney on April 17, 2018, and prosecutors dropped all three charges on the condition that Greenwood plead guilty to a disorderly conduct violation and complete 75 hours of community service. The injured student, a junior and a member of Kappa Sigma, spoke to The Sun on the condition of anonymity on Sept. 15, 2017, from a local hospital, where he was checked for a concussion and a broken nose, of which he had neither. “I was pretty bloodied up,” he said. Two people with the victim after the assault said in sworn statements to police that the student’s shirt was soaked in blood following the incident. Greenwood apologized in an email on Sept. 20, 2017 ,for using “unacceptable and inappropriate language,” but did not address the reported physical dispute. Greenwood’s attorney, Ray Schlather J.D. ’76, said his client was not involved in any fight and had not committed any crime. Black Students United’s executive board demanded on Sept. 20, 2017 that the University work to increase the presence of black students on campus, create an anti-racism institute, hire additional non-white mental health and medical personnel and require diversity training for employees and specific coursework for students. The demands are meant to be fulfilled over several years, although BSU members want work to begin immediately. Led by co-chairs Delmar Fears ’19 and Traciann Celestin ’19, BSU also demanded that any students found to have been involved in the assault be expelled, that the Psi Upsilon fraternity be permanently banned from campus and that the fraternity’s house

CAMERON POLLACK / SUN FILE PHOTO

Protest | Jasmine Scott ’21, Nina Lueders ’20 and Josephy Nelzy ’18 carry a banner.

be converted into a cultural center for members of the African diaspora. Thomas J. Fox, executive director of the Psi Upsilon International Office, said in a statement that “no initiated members” of the fraternity, which had its recognition revoked in 2016, were involved in the assault. But Psi Upsilon’s alumni Board of Governors told Cornell this week that it was closing the Cornell chapter of the fraternity indefinitely. Fox said the international office of the fraternity had found that some members of the suspended Cornell fraternity were recruiting while the chapter was suspended. The organization announced that it has extended the suspension of the Cornell chapter until the fall of 2020. As students squeezed into Willard Straight Hall and sat on the floor as music blared and BSU members passed out bottled water, the organization’s co-chairs reflected on the parallels between the September occupation and the armed takeover in 1969. “There is an act of racial violence happening on campus again,” said Fears, whose mother graduated from Cornell in 1973. “This isn’t new.” Celestin said BSU had chosen to occupy the building for the same reasons black students had seized the building in April of 1969. “This is the heart of campus,” she said, “so we want to disrupt the heart of campus.” David S. Mason ’69, now a professor at Butler University, was stationed outside of Willard Straight Hall during the 1969 takeover photographing the scene for the University yearbook, the Cornellian. Informed of the black student’s occupation by a Sun reporter, Mason said his first reaction was “amazement.” “Almost 50 years after that incident, we’re still plagued CAMERON POLLACK / SUN FILE PHOTO with the same problems: This issue of racism, more generally, but also specific cases of racist actions on campus,” he Sending a message | Jasmine Scott ’21 holds a poster at said in an interview in September 2017. an employee assembly meeting. But there were also stark differences between the two occupations. Black students, in 1969, expelled at least 20 for student and campus life, on the morning of Sept. 17, parents from guest rooms in the building at 5:45 a.m. 2017. When the group handed Pollack its 12 demands, she during Parents Weekend, The Sun reported. Members of said she would work with BSU to “do The Afro-American Society, in 1969, everything we can to rid this campus of remained in the building for more than racism.” “Almost 50 years after that 24 hours and armed themselves after “I can’t promise there will never be an attempted intrusion by white countincident we’re still plauged another racist incident,” she said. “This er-protesters. The takeover led to a host with the same problems: This is a scourge across the country, but I’m of changes and at least one resignation going to work with all of you to do everyissue of racism...” at the University, The Sun reported in thing we can.” 1969. Davis S. Mason ’69 Imani Luckey ’19, a BSU political The protest, on the other hand, was action chair, looked over the hundreds of condoned by the University, with at least students occupying the hall on Sept. 20, a dozen staff members present — includ2017, almost all clad in black in support of BSU, and she ing a vice president and the dean of students — and BSU members were in contact with Cornell Police and admin- let out a sigh, picked up by the microphone. “This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen istrators throughout the day, they said. The sit-in ended as since my start at Cornell,” she said. scheduled, at 4 p.m. Alisha Gupta ’20 contributed reporting to this article. Students were cautiously hopeful that the drastic measures black students deemed necessary nearly 50 years ago would not be required to make substantial change today. Pollack, who began Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs can be reached at her tenure as president in April 2017, nbogel-burroughs@cornellsun.com. seemed very receptive to BSU’s demands, said Fears, who along with Celestin, met with Pollack and Ryan Lombardi, the vice president

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