Racially segregated education was ruled unconstitutional more than 60 years ago in the famous Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, but Cornell University is attempting to revive it in the 21st century.
In a throwback to the era of Jim Crow, a racially-segregated physical education class titled “BIPOC Rock Climbing” was offered at the university during the Spring 2021 academic semester. According to the official course description on the university’s website, course registration was restricted to “people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other people of color.” In other words, no whites allowed.
When conservative watchdog group Campus Reform inquired about the discriminatory enrollment criteria for the course—a clear violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits institutions receiving federal funds from discriminating on the basis of race or national origin—the university quickly backtracked. The course description was changed (slightly) and now states that the class is “designed to enable Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other people of color underrepresented in the sport of rock climbing to learn the sport and to feel included and supported.”
“The class is open to all Cornell students interested in learning rock climbing with this special focus,” the edited course description now states.
While students who do not fit into these minority categories are no longer strictly prohibited from enrolling, the intent to maintain a segregated racial environment in the class is abundantly clear.
Cornell Senior Director of Media Relations and News, John Carberry, claimed in a statement that “all Cornell students” are “welcome” to enroll in BIPOC rock climbing—a statement that is clearly in contradiction with the original course description.
“While the original description of the course represented an intentional focus on outreach and inclusion, there was never an intent to exclude non-minority students,” Carberry added, noting that “The description of the course has been adjusted accordingly.”
For deliberately encouraging unconstitutional segregation in official university programs, Cornell deserves its place on the list of America’s most racist universities.