Cornell students believe saying ‘build a wall’ is ‘hate speech’ — and they’re demanding justice

Cornell students believe saying ‘build a wall’ is ‘hate speech’ — and they’re demanding justice
Students at Cornell University are demanding repercussions for students who chanted "hate speech." That hate speech was a popular phrase Trump supporters use: "Build a wall." (Image source: Getty Creative)

Members of Cornell University’s student assembly are calling on university administrators to punish members of a fraternity who chanted “build a wall” last week following President Donald Trump’s decision to end DACA.

What happened?

Last Wednesday, one day after Trump’s decision, Latino students heard members of the Zeta Psi fraternity chanting “build the wall,” a reference to Trump’s promise to build a wall on the southern U.S.-Mexico border.

The Cornell Daily Sun reported the student assembly gathered last Thursday to discuss the lack of consequences to the “verbal marginalization,” which one student leader called “hate speech.”

What the assembly is demanding

“It’s disgusting that hate speech like this is not followed up with repercussions,” one student leader said, according to the Daily Sun.

At the meeting, students demanded that the administration work to expand diversity by educating their peers. They also discussed modifying the student code of conduct and expanding the consequences for breaking it.

What the school plans to do

School president Martha Pollack told the students that while it’s still early to make a decisive decision about the “hate speech,” the administration is committed to work on several issues moving forward, including:

  • Holding fraternities responsible for their actions
  • Facilitating better dialogue on campus
  • “Serious investments” in more faculty and counselors of color

The administration also condemned the speech in an email to students. “I am concerned by what is the continued marginalization of many members of the Cornell community,” Pollack wrote. “I strongly condemn behavior that is antithetical to our proud history of inclusion..”

Another administration member, the director of intercultural programs, also said the school must be committed to “work on people from the moment they step on this campus.”

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