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President Cornish rejects IC Students for Palestine’s demands

ICSFP%E2%80%99s+demands+presented+March+23+were%3A+a+school-wide+statement+acknowledging+the+genocide+of+Palestinians%2C+a+statement+of+support+for+Palestinian+students+and+an+apology+for+not+making+the+statement+sooner%3B+a+Boycott%2C+Divestment+and+Sanction+%28BDS%29+audit+which+would+provide+access+to+information+about+if+the+college+receives+funding+from+any+Israeli+or+Zionist+corporations%3B+and+for+Birthright+trips+to+stop+being+run+through+Hillel+at+Ithaca+College.
Lorien Tyne
ICSFP’s demands presented March 23 were: a school-wide statement acknowledging the genocide of Palestinians, a statement of support for Palestinian students and an apology for not making the statement sooner; a Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) audit which would provide access to information about if the college receives funding from any Israeli or Zionist corporations; and for Birthright trips to stop being run through Hillel at Ithaca College.

This story was updated March 30 at 4:58 p.m.

On March 29, President La Jerne Cornish met with three representatives from Ithaca College Students for Palestine (ICSFP) and rejected three demands they presented to her at a die-in March 23.

ICSFP’s demands were: a school-wide statement acknowledging the genocide of Palestinians, a statement of support for Palestinian students and an apology for not making the statement sooner; a Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) audit which would provide access to information about if the college receives funding from any Israeli or Zionist corporations; and for Birthright trips to stop being run through Hillel at Ithaca College.

In an email sent to The Ithacan, Dave Maley, director of public relations, said on behalf of the college and Cornish that while Cornish rejected the demands, she encourages dialogue.

“President Cornish told them that her sphere of influence and focus remain on representing the entire Ithaca College community, and that the best use of her voice is in advocating for dialogue across differences and in encouraging further opportunities for education, both inside and outside of the classroom,” Maley said.

Maley said in the email that Cornish met with the student representatives and Bonnie Prunty, vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Life, for 90 minutes and had what Cornish believed to be a productive discussion.

“President Cornish has great concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and she stands by her previous statements to the campus community expressing her horror at the ongoing violence in Gaza and Israel; her support for the college’s Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian students; and her condemnation of all forms of hatred and bigotry, including Islamophobia and antisemitism,” Maley said.

On March 23, Cornish said to ICSFP that while she could not promise to meet all demands, she supported their right to protest. Maley emphasized the same in his email.

“She believes that the Ithaca College community thrives on the peaceful and respectful exchange of ideas with recognition for our shared humanity and is open to continuing the conversations on how the college can best support the well-being of our students,” Maley said. 

Junior Richard Martin said he was one of the three students who met Cornish on March 29. Martin said he was disappointed with Cornish’s decision, even though he went into the meeting not expecting much.

“[Next steps are] showing the administration how many students are disappointed and unhappy and angry with them,” Martin said. “That it is not just a small body of students, there are quite a few of us and to keep pushing that it is not okay to stay silent.”

On March 27, the college hosted the first-ever commemoration in 54 years of a march and sit-in that was organized in 1970 by the college’s then Afro-Latin Society (ALS). Martin said given the timing of this commemoration, he feels that the college’s rejection of ICSFP’s demands is not in alignment with the values it is promoting.

“The college is now looking [in] hindsight, giving themselves a pat on the back as if the administration wasn’t who these students were protesting,” Martin said. “We feel that is a little hypocritical to be … taking credit for students of color, the work that they were doing against [the college] … and then [doing] the exact same thing of rejecting us and shutting us down.”

The Ithacan reached out to Hillel at Ithaca College for a comment but has not received a response as of 4:58 p.m. 

 

 

 

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Lorien Tyne, Former News Editor
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