Race, law enforcement and safety

Dear Cornell Community:

As we celebrate Cornell's 150 years of education, scholarship and public engagement, we honor one of our fundamental strengths — our history of inclusivity. The university continues to encourage the exploration of all forms of knowledge and welcome all people, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances. To fully support an inclusive culture, our campus must be safe and feel safe for every member of our community.

I am emphasizing our values at this time because issues of racial discrimination and use of excessive force by police remain at the center of national news and debate. During the past year, many of you have expressed strong feelings and opinions about race, law enforcement and safety in conversation, writing and at events on campus. Very recently, these concerns have been expressed directly to me by our students. I want to assure you of my commitment — and that of the university — to a campus culture of mutual respect where each one of us can feel comfortable and safe.

Our most recent on-campus crime statistics, for 2011-2013, show no physical assault hate crimes. But, despite these data, I am aware that concerns remain. We are fortunate at Cornell to have as colleagues the professionals in the Cornell University Police Department (CUPD). The proven dedication and integrity of our police officers are essential to fostering an environment of safety and respect.

University support is available if you have been affected in any way by acts of racial or other discrimination. If you are a victim of or a witness to a hate crime, please contact CUPD at 255-1111. To maintain public trust and department accountability, CUPD encourages individuals to bring forward any concern about the conduct of members of its department by filing a formal complaint. For bias incidents of any kind, you may report the matter online. The Victim Advocacy Program and the Office of the University Ombudsman provide assistance to students, faculty and staff. Both are safe places that maintain confidentiality while offering information and assistance in evaluating and pursuing options.


David J. Skorton