On Tuesday, Cornell University informed its chapter of Psi Upsilon that it would be closed indefinitely. The decision came after members of Psi Upsilon were “accused of attacking a black student, beating him and calling him by a racial epithet,” as stated by the New York Times. While Cornell did the right thing in shutting down the fraternity, their response is still lacking. As of now, it does not appear that the Cornell administration will be punishing the specific students involved in the incident, just the fraternity as a whole. This is unacceptable. Racist incidents are still too common on college campuses — including here at NYU — and they must not be swept under the rug.
It is important to note that one student involved in the incident, John Greenwood, has been arrested and charged with third-degree assault. However, Cornell has yet to issue a statement that Greenwood and the other students involved in the incident will be punished by the university. This silence allows the students involved in this incident — and all Cornell students involved with discriminatory actions — to feel emboldened by their university. Speaking out against racism generally is great for optics, but it does nothing to prevent these incidents in the future. After all, in 2016, Psi Upsilon was punished, only after Cornell received over 30 complaints regarding discriminatory instances. Obviously, frat members feel as though they can get away with far too much under the guise of a fraternity.
Greek life chapters on most college campuses are, as argued by a Cornell parent, notoriously segregated. As the parent believes, this is a continuation of an existing status quo seen in many aspects of American life: communities are segregated, schools are segregated and places of worship are segregated years after segregation was supposedly outlawed. Usually, fraternities are not required to enforce any sort of diversity quotas, leading people to recruit who they are comfortable with — people who look like themselves. Of course, this is largely unintentional. However, overt segregation in Greek life leads to far too many racist incidents. The first step to ending this is holding students involved in discriminatory incidents accountable.
Racism of any kind is not and will not be tolerated at NYU; fraternities and sororities are no exception. All students involved in this lynching, and any instance of discriminatory behavior, must be held accountable for their inexcusable actions. Finally, in light of this despicable act, members of NYU Greek life, especially those at NYU’s Psi Upsilon chapter, must double-down on their commitment to diversity and equality.
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A version of this appeared in the Monday, Sept. 25 print edition.