Message from Vice President Lombardi

Dear Students,

Over the last number of weeks, a vigorous debate about the role of policing on our campus has ensued among the Cornell student body. The Student Assembly has served as a forum for this debate, which is wholly appropriate and important given its role as a self-governing entity designed to represent the perspectives of the undergraduate student body.

Throughout the course of this debate, many passionate and personal feelings were shared. Strong perspectives on all sides of the issue emerged. The intensity of feelings led the dialogue to devolve into an unproductive, and at times, disrespectful space.

To be clear, debates filled with passion and energy are exactly what should happen on a college campus. Part of the learning process is to engage in critical thinking and constructive discourse to help formulate one’s perspective on issues of importance. This rarely happens on a linear trajectory and is rarely easy. In a semester as difficult as this one, having such debates is even more difficult. Finger-pointing and tactics that dehumanize the issues, and one another, can more easily occur when we only see our neighbors and classmates through screens rather than in person.

This debate continued online and escalated to the point of anonymous messages and posts on websites that invoked racist and other demeaning messages directed towards specific individuals in our community. More recently, this debate has moved into a broader forum with national interest that generated additional posts and comments. These comments are rife with racism and misogyny, among other deplorable forms of attempted degradation.

I condemn these comments in the strongest possible terms, and hope that every Cornellian will stand firm against them. Students come to Cornell with hopes and dreams to change the world, and while for each individual that means something different, all must be able to do so without facing attacks that target the core of their humanity.

We are just a few days away from winter break; one that is desperately needed. I implore all Cornellians to take the time to reflect on the community we aspire towards and return in the new year with a renewed commitment to listening, learning, and uplifting those around us.

I wish you all peace and health in the coming weeks.

Ryan Lombardi
Vice President for Student and Campus Life