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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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