Dean of Students candidate Vijay Pendakur participated in an open forum last Friday, during which he discussed his life story and vision for Cornell.
He stressed that he would consider all students when making decisions as dean. He said during the forum “If I say ‘The dean’s area of focus is diversity and inclusion,’ the unspoken thought in response often is ‘Oh, so he’s here for only the marginalized students.’ So we need to undo that, because that is a deeply problematic framework. If we’re going to make progress, it needs to be everyone’s conversation.”
Apparently this is a radical concept at Cornell. Julia Montejo, vice president for diversity of inclusion and social justice warrior, was offended that Pendakur would dare concern himself with students that do not belong to groups that are considered to be underrepresented or marginalized. Montejo responded to Pendakur’s approach and said “I’d like to hear more on how that kind of approach and philosophy continues to put the concerns of minority students, students of color, underrepresented students, LGBTQ-identifying students and students with disabilities at the center. Underrepresented students often feel afraid to speak up and oftentimes those with more privilege in the room are more likely to take up more vocal and physical space.”
Pendakur responded by explaining that his approach to diversity dialogue is nuanced, by balancing the need to include all community members in the discussion while ensuring that “marginalized” members feel their voices are heard.
Considering the fact that Pendakur is a candidate for the position of “Dean of Students” rather than “Dean of Some Students”, this approach shouldn’t be seen as a crazy idea. However, given the culture of extreme political correctness present on this campus, this line of thinking coming from a student leader is in no way a surprise.
The original version of this article misspelled Julia Montejo’s name.