Cornell students are required to get a flu vaccination before arriving on campus as part of the Cornell Student Behavioral Compact in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Or, to put it more accurately, white students are required to get a flu vaccination.
Most white students, anyway. If you’re Caucasian, you must obtain a medical or religious exemption in order to opt out.
Meanwhile, all “Black,” “Indigenous” and other students of color are allowed to cite their racial identity — or a medical or religious reason — as a cause for exemption from the Ivy League school’s requirement.
“Students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or as a Person of Color (BIPOC) may have personal concerns about fulfilling the Compact requirements based on historical injustices and current events,” Cornell’s website reads.
According to another page on the website, some minority students “may have concerns about needing to agree to such requirements” because of “longstanding systemic racism and health inequities in this country.”
“For example, historically, the bodies of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) have been mistreated, and used by people in power, sometimes for profit or medical gain. It is understandable that the current Compact requirements may feel suspect or even exploitative to some BIPOC members of the Cornell community,” Cornell’s website read.
“Additionally, recent acts of violence against Black people by law enforcement may contribute to feelings of distrust or powerlessness.”
These “acts of violence” or course likely refer to police killings decried by the Black Lives Matter movement and others in 2020, the most noteworthy of which are George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake (all three cases came with extenuating circumstances).
“We know this history and validate the potential concerns it may raise. At the same time, we know that long-standing social inequalities and health disparities have resulted in COVID-19 disproportionately affecting BIPOC individuals,” the website reads.
There are numerous reasons why the language in these health guidelines is troubling, with the school’s use of the phrase “systemic racism” at the top of that list.
This idea posits that any and all racial disparities among minority groups and America’s white population must be due to a series of mostly invisible and unseen forces known as “systemic racism.”
Although historical racism indeed has had long-lasting effects, racial divides in economic success are due to many factors, including differences in culture and demographics.
By buying into this nonsense and using it to treat racial groups differently instead of equally, Cornell University is only helping to pull America further away from Martin Luther King Jr.’s colorblind ideal.
If we truly want to unite as a country and move forward, we need to start treating all people as equals, regardless of their race.
Cornell’s policies don’t do this. Instead, they treat minorities as victims and white people as oppressors.
No wonder race relations in this country continue to worsen.
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