Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cornell Gets Bad Press

I receive many e-mails through the human services coalition. Today, I received this press release:

Women at Cornell: Administration’s Appointment of Grant Farred as Head of Africana Faculty Search a ‘Betrayal’

A group of women at Cornell released a statement Thursday entitled “Women at Cornell in Defense of Ourselves.”  In response to the appointment of Professor Grant Farred to head of Africana’s faculty search by those officiating the current receivership over the Center, the women express a “resolute and sustained outrage."  They question the message and institutional implications of charging the professor, who is perhaps best known locally and nationally for publicly denigrating two of his graduate students with the epithet “black bitches” in the April 2010, with “shaping Africana’s future.”
The group, who call themselves the Sojourner Tubman Collective, assert that the administration’s failure to place the phrase “black bitches” in its proper context of historically-rooted and “socially-sanctioned racist sexual violence”--or even the pornographic and violent contents manifest in a google search--affirms their ignorance and even contempt for Africana and Black Studies.  The group describes the efforts to establish the Africana Center as triggered by a defense of Black women in 1968, after a cross was burned in front of Wari House, the Black women’s cooperative.
The group stresses that the administration's contempt is evident also in the university’s treatment of the Africana Studies and Research Center, in which we witness “the first directors in the Center’s history to have been selected without a vote or serious input from Africana faculty.” However, it is now also apparent given Farred’s appointment by university officials that it perhaps university policy to “reward the sexual harassment of Black women with decision-making positions.”
They conclude with a sincere expression of their praise of the two Black women graduate students, who suffered sexual harassment from Farred in 2010, for their incredible courage in speaking out.  In order to prove they have any respect for Black women at Cornell--including for students, staff, faculty and prospective incoming Africana faculty--the group demands that the university remove Grant Farred from his position as chair of the faculty search committee, effective immediately.

Why would Cornell University employ such an obvious misogynist?  Why does the administration continue to undermine the faculty who serve in the Africana and Black studies?  Why is the CU blatantly rewarding someone who is both locally and nationally known for denigrating students in the past?  It certainly leaves these questions unanswered, and honestly, what answer could they have that would make this appointment seem justified in any capacity?  I wholeheartedly support the sentiments expressed in this press release.

Do you agree or disagree with the opinions expressed in this press release?  What do you think should be the course of action the University takes to address this issue? Comment below or email me

1 comment:

  1. I was organizing with Save the Africana Action Committee throughout all of last year, the disrespect, disregard, and responses from the administration were really disturbing. It's great to see that someone else is speaking truth to power about this.