Dr. Martha E. Pollack
Dear President Pollack,
I am writing to express my disappointment and outrage that Cornell University was recently named to the list of the Top Ten Most Racist Colleges & Universities released by the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
As the report notes, Cornell made the list for offering a racially-segregated physical education class titled “BIPOC Rock Climbing” 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.”
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.
I respectfully ask that you immediately apologize to the entire Cornell community for promoting unconstitutional segregation in university programming and further edit the course description to ensure that the class is not only open but welcoming to students of all ethnicities and backgrounds.