Cornell Declaration States School Perpetuates “Colonialism, Indigenous Dispossession, Slavery, Racism, Classism, Sexism, Transphobia, Homophobia, Antisemitism, and Ableism.”

We have been following conflicts over official statements or acknowledgements on diversity, colonialism, or privilege at universities. These conflicts often involve concerns over free speech or academic freedom. The most recent controversy has arisen at Cornell University and involves a challenge to an official declaration that the university perpetuates “settler colonialism, indigenous dispossession, slavery, racism, classism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, antisemitism, and ableism.” The statement was posted on its School of Integrative Plant Science’s website and, according to the site College Fix, one academic has objected: Randy Wayne, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The statement is attributed to the SIPS Diversity and Inclusion Council, which formed last October.

In response, Professor Wayne wrote to Chelsea Specht, associate dean for diversity and inclusion for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with the following response.

Dear Chelsea,

I write to you as the new Associate Director of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

The article entitled, “SIPS Community Commits to Diversity and Inclusion” on the CALS website states that “The Council’s vision is for an inclusive SIPS community that flourishes because it values and supports diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. It recognizes that our institution was founded on and perpetuates various injustices. These include settler colonialism, indigenous dispossession, slavery, racism, classism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, antisemitism, and ableism.” I do not believe that the sentences I have put in bold are true. If you believe that these statements are fact and not fiction, true and not false, would you please provide me with your evidence so that I too will believe what is factual and truthful?

I am attaching a link about James Sumner: He was a Cornell professor who had one arm. I assume that when he was hired, Cornell was not ableist. Good thing. He went on to prove that enzymes were proteins and won the 1946 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. I teach about Sumner’s work in Plant Cell Biology. I show my students and let them hold his Nobel medal which is in the Rare and Manuscript Collection at Cornell. Sumner ended his Nobel lecture by saying, “We can sum up by saying that as the result of discoveries in the field of enzyme chemistry some questions have been answered and many new questions have arisen. We live in an expanding universe in more senses than that of the astronomers.” I would like to believe that one of the senses of the expanding universe today is in gaining a more truthful rather than a false understanding of the world around us. Your answer to this email will help me clarify how the universe is expanding.

Specht replied with an offer to meet and added:

“We can talk about the role of mindset in building an inclusive culture, and perhaps find some shared values that are not about fact or fiction, true or false, but about recognizing the role we can each play in ensuring an equitable future – for ourselves, our colleagues, and our students.”

The suggestion that the academics move beyond “fact or fiction, true or false” is rather curious since the statement makes an affirmative and shocking series of accusations. It is also hard to see how this statements fosters “an inclusive culture” if this list of current prejudices and abusive practices is not factually true.

The concern for academics is that such statements put pressure on colleagues to follow suit with their own public testimonials. We saw this trend start years ago. We discussed the controversy over the acting Northwestern Law Dean declaring publicly “I am James Speta and I am a racist.” He was followed by Emily Mullin, executive director of major gifts, who announced, “I am a racist and a gatekeeper of white supremacy. I will work to be better.” We have had others like a Brandeis dean declare “Yes, all White people are racists.”

Such statements are becoming more common while a minority of faculty raise objections. Likewise, the growing use of land acknowledgments has been opposed by some faculty as “performative acts of conformity.”

That brings us back to the offer to meet on the Cornell statement but expressly not to discuss the factual accuracy of the claim that the university “perpetuates various injustices [including] settler colonialism, indigenous dispossession, slavery, racism, classism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, antisemitism, and ableism.”

Thankfully, Professor Wayne has not been the subject of a cancel campaign as have others who have raised such objections. However, both students and faculty have been targeted at Cornell for raising such objections. This includes efforts to fire Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson for offering dissenting views on the Black Lives Matter movement, a campaign fueled by some of his own colleagues.

From the published account, Associate Dean Specht does not appear inclined to discuss the merits of the posting or the basis for the claim. Yet, this is the type of controversy that would make for a worthy and civil discussion for the university as a whole. The university likely does have institutional failings or abuses in the past that should be acknowledged but it should also recognize the progress and current status of the university on such issues. If the university is continuing to perpetuate all of these terrible prejudices and practices (including apparently “slavery”), the school should be able to produce proof so that the abuses can be addressed. That means that there may be a modicum of effort to address whether the self-condemnation of the school is “fact or fiction, true or false.”


61 thoughts on “Cornell Declaration States School Perpetuates “Colonialism, Indigenous Dispossession, Slavery, Racism, Classism, Sexism, Transphobia, Homophobia, Antisemitism, and Ableism.””

  1. Oberlin is yet another indoctrination institution that is chock full of woke, sniveling, put-upon professional victim/students. Egged on by elitist, ‘culturally superior’ rabble-rousing faculty members. If a prospective student applicant is a straight biological male or female with no gender hang ups and is religious and non-woke, no need to even apply. Such an unacceptable person would be rejected and tormented in the name of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’. Note to all sane past graduates: Never donate money to Oberlin!!

  2. Everyone that supports Colonialism, Indigenous Dispossession, Slavery, Racism, Classism, Sexism, Transphobia, Homophobia, Antisemitism, and Ableism should apply to Cornell. Seems like a very welcoming college and great place to hang with like-minded students.

  3. My sincere wish is that I lived near the Cornell campus. My ongoing educational project would be to skulk around the buildings late at night, placing nooses, KKK signs, swastikas, White Power posters, American Nazi Party literature, etc. The resulting gnashing of teeth by the put-upon anti-American elitist faculty members and ‘Inclusivity Yentas’ would be a laugh-riot thoroughly enjoyed by the students who simply want a good education as opposed to woke ‘We so bad’ indoctrination.

  4. Ask an Oberlin student—fresh outta Shaker Heights, coming in hot, with a heart as big as all outdoors and a 3 in AP Bio—to tell you what speech is acceptable, and she’ll tell you that it’s speech that doesn’t hurt the feelings of anyone belonging to a protected class.

    -Caitlin Flanagan

    1. From the same Caitlin Flanagan article. The people who wrote the Cornell declaration are just pissed that they couldn’t get a job at Harvard 🙂 🙂

      “It was the I also got into Cornell of tweets: Of course I think it’s gross, but I want you to know I was asked.”

      -Caitlin Flanagan

      Flanagan is a talented, insightful writer and this is a highly relevant piece on free speech”

  5. Go “Big Red”! Mao’s Cultural Revolution, which for so many years was glorified within Cornell’s Chinese History Department, has deep roots and has borne Fruit now in Full Bloom. What an utter intellectual disgrace.

  6. What? No Islamophobia complaint? Thought that was the woke people’s big evil these days, or maybe not so much given all the recent ROP devotee attempts at assignations.

    1. If these places are indeed perpetuating racism among other illegal acts, I’d hope that the DOJ investigates them, and cuts off any federal funding, or mete out other punishments as appropriate.

      1. Pie Jesu Domine,Dona eis requiem:
        1. Ecclesial translation: “Merciful Jesus, grant them rest”
        2. Monty Python translation: “Dear Jesus, make them stop!”

        I like #2 best


        1. John Cleese is the Provost’s visiting professor at Cornell University, after having been an Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large…perhaps he will lead the chant!!!!!

      2. And will you allow others, including Law Enforcement, to tell you who is perpetuating and what’s true and what’s false?
        We live among the stupidest voting cohort in American history. So completely stupid that even though every adult in the USA carries the knowledge of the internet in their pockets or in their hands throughout their waking hours most opt to have blow-dried news readers tell them what is true, what is false and what is important. After you read the column and showed your virtue, lol, by your comment you’ve completely forgotten about it having left the research into the school and this event re racism and “other illegal acts” to your favorite soap opera news crew and they can tell you what and how to think.
        The biggest problem isn’t racism, it’s the millions upon millions of stupid and lazy people who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.


    The communist Deep Deep State Swamp orders people in America to hate Americans, love foreigners, espouse communism, and buy electric cars.

    Oh, and to completely ignore the crimes of high office and violations of criminal law perpetrated by Hillary, Obama and the Biden Crime Family.

    Somehow this has the feel of being unconstitutional, collectivist, communist and dictatorial.

    That certain defective people, who overcompensate for their failures, engender delusions of grandeur and phantasms of moral, intellectual and ideological superiority, does not grant them superseding authority or diminish the dominion of the clear and obvious, meaning and intent of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    Unfortunately, the three branches of government, the legislative, the legislative II and the executive, two legislative and one executive, failed America.

    If only the U.S. Constitution had had a supportive ally, an efficacious judicial branch, the outcome would have been different; it would have been constitutional.

    Ben Franklin et al. gave you a restricted-vote republic under the dominion of the Constitution and you couldn’t keep it.

    What Fresh Hell Awaits America?

    1. Cuba? Venezuela? That is what they want. One party system. We know how well that works in California and New York. If the school thinks that way, they should disband and sell off all the assets

  8. Diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry) of the nominally “secular” ethical religion including ageism or the wicked solution by the millions annually incorporated under a transnational cult and federation.

  9. Homophobia is a politically congruent (“=”) subset of transphobia (i.e. trans is a state or process of divergence from normal) that is a disorder through projection.

    That said, diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry) is a progressive condition. #HateLovesAbortion

  10. Why do students accept admission to, and agree to pay $250,000 to get a piece of paper from, a university that they claim perpetuates “settler colonialism, indigenous dispossession, slavery, racism, classism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, antisemitism, and ableism?”

    If Cornell does not meet their impossible standards, then why don’t they go someplace else?

    1. Using logic, to convince an illogical person, the error of their ways, never works. Throughout history, humans migrated to land occupied by others, and killed them. America, has the ends justify the means attitude. Might makes right. Blaming living people, for the sins of their ancestors, accomplishes little.

  11. If Cornell is publicly acknowledging its past and present abuse and discrimination, much of which are both civil and criminal offenses, then a class action suit should be filed by current and past grads in an amount equal to its financial value, including all endowments. Any award could be used for reparations to all who attended school there. The ensuing bankruptcy could be used to close the university and create a utopian institution.

    1. Well said. Clearly, I was duped when I arrived and thought that my graduate degrees in Chinese linguistics and Chinese government would state to the world that I was an expert on said subjects. I have been exceedingly remiss not to include the other charms which Cornell conferred which “include settler colonialism, indigenous dispossession, slavery, racism, classism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, antisemitism, and ableism”. I think I had better update my Linkedin to register my shame for ever having spent 4 years (1979-1983) in such a vile pastry shop amidst such blathering fools. No wonder Biden needs to help the losers such an institution graduates–they are clearly unable to think clearly, let alone clearly, deeply for themselves.

  12. “. . . that are not about fact or fiction, true or false . . .”

    They are openly peddling mindlessness, at a highly regarded university. This blatant rejection of reason is worse than useless. It’s destructive to young students, who desperately need to learn the difference between fact and fiction, and *how* to distinguish true from false.

    You know what comes out of places like Cornell? The culture’s leaders. Having been taught as undergraduates to indulge their emotions, they indulge their desires (e.g., at the DOJ, FBI, MSM) to wreck American institutions, the rule of law, a man’s political career — and dub as “enemies of the State” those whose opinions make them feel bad.

  13. “The concern for academics is that such statements put pressure on colleagues to follow suit with their own public testimonials.” If that isn’t the statement/suggestion of a situation where prog academics have become coercive bullies then I couldn’t find a better one. The progs have been using this sort intellectual intimidation to cow those not willing to truly believe. We really need someone like the Orkin Man to tent all universities and remove the infestation of clownish progressive blather and the damaged brains attached to such nonsense if we wish to re-establish credibility in our institutions of higher learning. AND, after this covid lockdown debacle, it appears that our public schools will need the same tenting and fumigation to be set aright.

  14. One additional point to make about Cornell University: It was Abe Lincoln in whose Administration that Cornell got its land grant and became a college back in 1865…..that’s Abe Lincoln for goodness sake!

Comments are closed.