Statement of Four Cornell Students Suspended for Protesting Israel’s Genocide in Gaza

On 4/26, four students were “temporarily suspended” by Cornell University for exercising their constitutional right to protest. In response, these students issued the following statement:

“In the past months, we have seen an incredible movement form on Cornell’s campus: students, faculty members, and staff have joined together to voice their support for the Palestinian Liberation Movement and to demand an end to the genocide happening in Gaza. Cornell’s administration has failed to fulfill its responsibilities to its community over the last six months. Inconsistent and repressive treatment of vocal community members, lackluster responses to threats of sexual assault, and increasingly hostile surveillance tactics towards Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students, staff, and faculty members have made it clear that our safety and voices do not matter.

When students, staff, and faculty have raised safety concerns about Islamophobic, anti-Arab, and, more specifically, anti-Palestinian attacks by other students, administrators nod their heads and “thank us for our perspective,” ostensibly placating us with empty gestures and no follow-up. When students, staff, and faculty have raised academic concerns about the complete erasure of anti-Zionist history and thought, we are ignored or pushed to the side. The administration has tried time and time again to suppress the speech of our communities, all the while hiding behind the claim that they have to ensure a safe and “undisrupted” learning environment for all students. Their choice to suspend peaceful protestors clearly shows that they do not care about all students’ safety equally.

Make no mistake—Cornell is taking such drastic action because the encampment is a fundamental threat to the university’s legitimacy. In our Liberated Zone (and at encampments across the country) we have called into question whether students ought to participate in institutions that are complicit in an ongoing genocide. If our action were not meaningful in the fight for divestment—if our encampment were not a genuine threat to the legitimacy of this institution—Cornell would not have cracked down on students so severely within twenty-four hours without ever engaging with our demands.

Now, to maintain the status quo of apathy and thoughtless compliance, they have suspended us. They seek to intimidate other students to keep us from fighting for collective, mutual liberation. But we are not scared. We will not be intimidated. And we will not stop demanding justice and liberation. We are committed to liberating our people and using our voices to push this administration to do the right thing.

Thus, our demands remain the same, and we raise our voices in unison to say: Divest Now.”