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Cornell hands out cards to incoming students categorizing them as 'privileged' or 'oppressed

A controversial card containing a list, which categorizes whether a person is privileged or “marginalized and oppressed,” was given to a group of student ambassadors at Cornell University. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for ITI Data)

A controversial card containing a list that categorizes whether a person is privileged or “marginalized and oppressed” was given to a group of student ambassadors at Cornell University prior to the arrival of incoming freshmen, Campus Reform reported.

The document, given to Campus Reform by a concerned student and pictured on its website, outlines various social issues and indicates whether certain demographics are privileged or oppressed "in a U.S. context."

Fifteen categories are listed and include gender identity, religion, martial/parental status, level of education and “use of English."

What are some of the examples?

The list asserts that white people are privileged, but people of color do not experience that advantage.

Students who speak “accented English” are considered marginalized or oppressed, while those who speak proper English are considered “privileged.”

The document also tells students that if their parents are married or in a heterosexual relationship they are privileged. Students who have parents who are divorced, LGBTQ, single, or involved in a “domestic partnership” are "oppressed."

Those who are “temporarily able-bodied” are considered privileged, opposed to “people with a physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability, who are oppressed,” according to the document.

Under the "size and appearance" category, the document states that people who are considered slender, beautiful or handsome are privileged. People outside of these categories are marginalized or oppressed, based on the document’s categories.

Age also comes into play. People in their 30s to early 50s are considered privileged while those from younger and older demographics are "oppressed."

Under religion, “Christians, Protestants and Catholics” are considered privileged, while those practicing Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic or Pagan religions are marginalized or oppressed, according to the document.

A female minority who has an accent, is in her late teens or early 20s and comes from a single parent home would then be marginalized or oppressed in at least five ways. The list also fails to consider a student's background, socioeconomic status and life experiences are not taken into account by the list, the media outlet noted.

How did the university respond?

Campus Reform reports that it waited three weeks to receive a response from Cornell.

Spokesman John Carberry responded to the outlet on Wednesday and did not deny the student's contention. He added that Cornell “will not be participating” or commenting on the matter.

Cornell is a privately endowed research university and a partner of the State University of New York, with an enrollment of 21,904 students, according to its website.

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