Inside Higher Education: A September of Racist Incidents

The attack that left a black Cornell University student bloodied last week may be the most severe racially charged incident on college campuses in the early weeks of the academic year, but it is far from the only one.

Experts say these apparently racially motivated events are nothing new in academe, though they’ve gained more visibility in recent years with the advent of social media, forcing administrators in an age of transparency to act more quickly and aggressively.

At Cornell, the Black Students United group occupied Willard Straight Hall for several hours Wednesday, harking back to another protest in the 1960s in which black students overran the student union, though in that instance they were armed with guns.

Black Students United were protesting the recent assault of a black student; the victim returned home to find a group of other students arguing with his housemate. When he tried to intervene, most of the students in the group began punching him and using a racial slur.

The university is investigating the Psi Upsilon fraternity’s connection to the attack. It was suspended last year after its president was accused of sexual assault, but the university withdrew its recognition after the fraternity threw a party during the probationary period. Cornell announced this week that Psi Upsilon intended to close the chapter after the allegations.

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