Amid Claims of Police Investigations, Cornell Independent Students Union Declared on Bailey Plaza

"The future of education is here." - Unidentified Cornell Independent Students Union speaker

Photo via The Cornell Review

Photo via The Cornell Review

As members of the Cornell community descended upon campus this weekend to celebrate Cornell's sesquicentennial and Charter Weekend, about 70 students gathered in Bailey Plaza this afternoon to declare the formation of the Cornell Independent Students' Union (CISU). CISU describes itself as a "union of students who struggle for student, worker & faculty power at Cornell and everywhere" and represents the culmination of the flaring up of student protesting this semester after the imposition of the $350 student health fee. At this afternoon's event, CISU leaders declared the group to be an "alternative forum" to the Student Assembly (SA) and other shared governance groups on campus. According to various students' speeches, CISU aims to "abolish student debt," "eradicate tuition," end racism, sexism and all forms of prejudice on campus and elsewhere, and achieve the "liberation of education."

Photo via The Cornell Review

The event outside Bailey Hall, where a Charter Day weekend event was being held, consisted of various students delivering speeches about CISU and their grievances against Cornell’s administrators and Board of Trustees, as well as against “neoliberal” higher education in general.

Students also chalked various slogans across the plaza. It was observed that one student misspelled “administrators” and another misspelled “neoliberalism.”


The CISU formation party then unraveled a large banner and stood in a line with arms locked waiting for the Bailey Hall event attendees to exit the building. As the attendees descended the steps of Bailey Hall and walked across the plaza, the protesters began shouting their regular chants of “Whose university? Our university” and “The students united will never be defeated.” Most of those exiting Bailey Hall appeared confused or bemused, and many took pictures of the students, who chanted for about 10 minutes. Presumptive CISU founder Wyatt Nelson ’16 delivered a final speech accosting the University’s administrators and trustees. The protesters then broke rank and clapped in sync for about 20 seconds.IMG_1942

Despite CISU’s anti-SA rhetoric, several SA members attended the event, including Women’s Issues Representative Yamini Bhandari ’17 who is running for student-elected trustee (another position CISU accosted). SA members did not participate in any CISU activities, but Sam Morrison ’17, another student trustee candidate, was observed joining in the line of chanters.

CISU’s apparent leaders are familiar faces in the Cornell protest community, including the likes of Wyatt Nelson ’16, Keanu Stryker ’17, and Connor Hodges ’18. However, notable paragon of the protest community, Daniel Waid Marshall ’15, was conspicuously absent.

A communique released by Fight the Fee, whose operations, it seems, are one in the same as CISU’s from here on out, claims Cornell University Police Department (CUPD) has threatened Marhsall with arrest and felony charges if he does not cooperate with investigations into the organization and activity of protest groups on campus.

According to the communique, CUPD claims it has subpoenaed for the email listserv of Save the Pass (the unofficial umbrella group of protest organizations on campus). Fight the Fee also claims CUPD told Marshall it had DNA and fingerprint evidence linking him to an alleged crime that took place the morning of anti-trustee protests earlier in the semester. 

The communique goes on to claim other unnamed student protesters have been questioned by CUPD for their roles in recent student protests.

CUPD Police Chief told the Review CUPD does not comment on ongoing investigations.


Most of the speeches at this afternoon’s event focused on CISU’s goals and its grievances against the University. Details regarding how it aims to achieve its varied goals, how it will operate, and who will be in charge remain unknown.

1 Comment on Amid Claims of Police Investigations, Cornell Independent Students Union Declared on Bailey Plaza

  1. Elijah Fletcher // April 27, 2015 at 6:39 pm //

    Fucking liberal hippies. Go whine somewhere else and let professionals run the school, you naive butt-hurt yuppies.

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