Standing against antisemitism and all forms of hate

Dear Cornell community,

The past two and a half days have been difficult ones for our university. In addition to the vile antisemitic posts that threatened our Jewish community on Sunday, today we had a concerning crime alert. Even though it was unsubstantiated, it adds to the stress we are all feeling. Cornell Police continue to have an increased presence on campus, and especially in high-priority areas.

While we take some measure of relief in knowing that the alleged author of the vile antisemitic posts that threatened our Jewish community is in custody, it was disturbing to learn that he was a Cornell student.

I want to express my sincere thanks to the FBI for their diligent, effective and efficient work on this case. And I want to thank CUPD both for assisting the FBI and for providing such strong security to our campus while treating our students with compassion and care.

On Sunday night, shortly after we learned of the threats, I went to sit with our Jewish students at the Center for Jewish Living and I returned the next morning with Governor Hochul, and for dinner that evening. It was so heartening to spend time with our students, who expressed strength and resilience even in the face of these awful threats.

Let me say again clearly. We will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell; indeed we will not tolerate hatred of any form, including racism or Islamophobia. What does this mean? It means, first and foremost, that when there are threats or incitement to violence, we will respond rapidly and forcefully, as we did in this case. It also means enhancing the prominence of our attention to antisemitism in our diversity and equity programing, both in online materials and in the programs that we require of and offer to our community. It means continuing to bring to campus speakers with expertise in antisemitism, its causes and strategies to intervene, as well as speakers with expertise in the history of the Jewish people. It means developing new policies that prohibit doxxing, and strengthening our support services to those who are doxxed. And it means creating a small group of trustees who will focus on these issues from a governance perspective, and a group of external advisors to suggest, with fresh eyes, additional steps that we should consider to counter antisemitism and all forms of hatred on our campus.

The steps mentioned above are just the start of the next phase of our work to fulfill the promise of our founding principle of being a university for “…any person…” We will be thoughtful and thorough in carrying on this difficult but critical effort.

I want to conclude by reminding everyone that we have more than 27,000 students, 4,000 faculty and 13,000 staff across our campuses. We cannot let ourselves be defined by the acts of one person, or even ten. While we denounce hatred loudly, we must also remember to cherish and celebrate all the good that so many members of our Cornell community do and live every day.


Martha E. Pollack