Statement to campus community from President Skorton

Dear Colleagues,

I write to all of you today to address the incidents of violence and bias on and near the Ithaca campus that have left many of us feeling angry, anxious and vulnerable.

Individual members of the Cornell community, as well as student, staff and faculty groups, have asked what is being done for campus safety, to apprehend the perpetrator or perpetrators, and what each of us can do right now, while investigations are continuing.

I hope all of you read the reports that Cornell University Police Department Chief Kathy Zoner sent on September 27, describing the status of the investigations, and on September 28, which outlined available safety services and additional measures being implemented by the Cornell Police. In addition, I ask that you take the time to learn about services offered by the Division of Student and Academic Services, Gannett Health Services and other units on campus at

Going forward we need to reaffirm that violence and bias have no place at Cornell. No individual has the right to harm another person, under any circumstances, and each of us needs to take personal responsibility for how our behavior affects others.

Recent open community meetings and ongoing interactions we are having with individuals and groups are leading to an expeditious reassessment of selected university policies and procedures as well as consideration of other actions that can be taken to improve the campus climate, strengthen individual responsibility for one's own interaction with peers, and to promote safety. In emails, conversations, open forums and small groups, students are sharing their feedback about what is working and what needs improvement in terms of current services and programs and our efforts to communicate with them. This information is essential, and I am listening.

As we consider and implement changes at the university level, all of us as individuals also need to take prudent measures to ensure our own safety – measures such as walking in groups late at night and utilizing the Blue Light services. Some have said that advocating for personal responsibility in the context of a violent and biased culture is tantamount to blaming the victim. I disagree. There is no substitute for taking personal precautions and prudent planning, and I urge all to do so.

I, like all of you, await the results of the police investigations, while recognizing that there are some details that cannot be disclosed without compromising these investigations. You have my personal assurance that the Cornell Police are pursuing their investigations with great care, professionalism and all possible haste.

Most important, I ask your personal commitment to work with me and other university leaders to make our campus safe and secure for everyone.

David J. Skorton