Cornell University defends a new rock climbing course offered to minority groups.
Among the Ivy League School’s outdoor education offerings for the spring semester 2021 was a course called âBIPOC Rock Climbingâ. The course description, according to the Cornell Daily Sun, stated that the course was “for people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asians or other people of color.”
This caused an uproar on the Internet. University was accused of violating federal and state civil rights laws, while a Reddit user denounced what he described as a “horribly and monstrously racist practice that has no place in the modern world “and” literally wrong “.
Earlier this year, the description of the “BIPOC Rock Climbing” course was changed to read: “This course is designed to enable Blacks, Natives, Latinx, Asians or other people of color who are underrepresented in the sport of climbing to learn to feel included and supported. The course is open to all Cornell students interested in learning to climb with this specialization.
University spokesman John Carberry told the Daily Sun on Monday that while these courses “may focus on students with a specific identity, they are not limited to those students alone.
“Cornell has many programs that support the interests and perspectives of different parts of our community,” he added. âWe encourage any interested student to take advantage of the unique opportunities on campus to learn from and with the many diverse perspectives and voices on campus. “
At the end of the semester, students and instructors defended the course’s emphasis on non-white students. Freshman Thomas Gambra told the Daily Sun that â[h]hearing people complain about this course, say that it takes away from our white peers is laughable and frustrating.
Instructor Matthew Gavieta, a junior, explained that the BIPOC course was meant to help alleviate what he called “an inaccessibility problem for minorities in this white-centric sport.”
Another instructor, Michelle Croen, claimed that “it is difficult to be a minority and to feel welcome in the great outdoors”, citing issues such as “the cost of entry and accessibility [and] smaller micro-attacks like the names of some outdoor climbing routes.
âJust below the surface, the climbing world is particularly affected by racism, sexism and size,â said Croen, who added that âby creating a community of traditionally under-represented people, we are enabling students to explore rock climbing and what it means on their own terms, in a comfortable and safe space.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 36% of Cornell’s more than 15,000 undergraduates as of fall 2019 were white. The second largest racial group were Asians (20%), followed by Hispanic / Latino students (14%). Black or African American students made up 7% of Cornell’s undergraduate population, behind âRace / ethnicity unknownâ (8%) and âNon-resident alienâ (11%).