Black Cornell Student Beaten in Racially Charged Attack

The university has seen several racially charged incidents over the past few weeks.


A Black Cornell University junior claims he was beaten by a group of white students in what appears to be yet another racially charged incident at the school.

The student, speaking to The Cornell Daily Sun under the condition of anonymity, said he was walking back to his residence on Sept. 15 when he saw several strangers pushing his friends. He yelled at the group to leave and they allegedly began yelling racial slurs at him.

“They said ‘F*ck you, n*gger,’ over and over, as they were leaving,” the junior said. He approached them, at which time “four or five of the guys came up and started punching me in the face repeatedly,” he said.

The attack left him “pretty bloodied up,” he told The Sun.

Another unidentified student reported to The Sun that later the same night one of the students involved in the first incident called him a racial slur as well.

Video of the incident is dark but racial slurs can be heard. The video was obtained by The Sun and reportedly reviewed by Ithaca Police. The student is not visible in the video.

One of the students who attacked the junior has been identified as John Greenwood, a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity. According to The Sun, Greenwood was charged with one count of third-degree assault and one count of aggravated harassment in the second degree.

“We are actively investigating all aspects of this complaint including any racially biased motivation,” Ithaca police reported to BuzzFeed News.

The New York Times identified the victim as a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity.

“Every time I watch TV and I hear a story like this, I know it could easily be me because I look the same as those people. I expected it to happen at some point,” he told the Times.

Greenwood said in a statement through his attorney, Raymond Schather, to BuzzFeed that “he accepts full responsibility” for his words and expressed apologies “to my fellow students, the entire Cornell community and my family and friends.”

However, BuzzFeed noted, “Greenwood did not reference a physical altercation.”

The Cornell chapter of Psi Upsilon was suspended last year after its former president, Wolfgang Ballinger, allegedly locked a woman in his bedroom and forced her to have oral sex with him.

Following the most recent alleged attack, the Psi Upsilon alumni Board of Governors informed Cornell they planned to shut down the university’s chapter. In a statement Ryan Lombardi, vice president of campus and student life, and Fred Van Sickle, vice president for alumni affairs and development, said the former fraternity house would be renovated “for the use of student organizations at Cornell that are dedicated to promoting a diverse and inclusive student community.”

On Thursday the Cornell Student Assembly passed Resolution 8, which condemns hate crimes and speech. It specifically acknowledges the two incidents that occurred on Sept. 15 and a separate incident about a week earlier when at least one member of a different fraternity, Zeta Psi, shouted “build a wall around the LLC” outside of the school’s Latino Living Center.

In its resolution the SA said it “unequivocally condemns all forms of the kyriarchy which these racist actions are a manifestation of” and further “calls on all members of the Cornell community to join” the condemnation.

On Wednesday a group of students — primarily students of color — participated in a demonstration led by Black Students United. Over 300 students marched in Willard Straight Hall and pled for more diversity at the school as well as the creation of an anti-racism institute.

The march echoed that of the 1969 Willard Straight Hall Takeover, at which time Black students marched on the same building and demanded equal treatment for Blacks on campus.

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  • No time to write, but oh my. It’s crazy that the form of argument many white special-ness advocates take, in speaking their opinion… is to do so by beating up a Black person!!! Like the buses I drove in busing: white neighborhoods angry at other white leaders across class, for thinking they can tell them how they should behave. And instead of taking it out on the white leaders, who lived in the suburbs, they surrounded, menaced, and threw rocks and bananas etc – at the arriving buses of black children.

    Like being mad at your parent, and taking it out by beating the dog – poor dog!!! And poor people of color who become targets.

    Best answer to bullies I think is to give them direct condemnation for their tactics, and challenge them to more explicit communication with the demand that they listen, not just talk. The USA is a geographically isolated country, caught up in it’s own ideas for a long time. Now we have ways to exchange as never before, let us welcome and use this time, realize it’s been a long time coming.


    • Yes, the USA is the big boy on the block and so convinced of its uniqueness, it seldom engages in selfexamination. At the same time, these traits when exhibited by supposedly bright young people in self-proclaimed elite schools is very, very alarming.

  • I think it is incredible nothing has changed on campus in decades. Many college kids are bunch of spoiled, racist, intolerant, little brats who know little about life and less about decency and caring. The more it appears to change, the more it stays the same. “Same as it ever was.”

    • Agree, mostly, but I’m more cynical, and don’t think it’s “incredible” that nothing much has changed.

  • Charity Dell

    The Black student victim NEEDS TO SUE EVERY STUDENT WHO BEAT HIM, and get
    his college tuition paid by every student who hurt him. People tend to “see the light” when
    they lose their money by LITERALLY PAYING FOR THEIR SIN.

    • No hazing. The victim wasn’t seeking to join the perpetrators’ fraternity.

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