• Richard Easson

Media Attention Forces University to Reverse its Ban on Whites from Rock-climbing Course

This headline probably caught your attention, because you didn’t know the ban I’m about to explain was even a thing.

The media helped in shining a spotlight on Cornell University’s offering of a rock-climbing class that “is for people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other people of color.” With that, the Ivy League university effectively violated federal and state civil rights laws.

One can gather from the description’s phrasing that the course is intended to exclude white students. A spokesperson for Cornell told Campus Reform, “there was never an intent to exclude non-minority students,” and that the original description “represented an intentional focus on outreach and inclusion.”

Ummm…then why even write the description with any mention of specific races in the first place? You’re an Ivy League university, you can figure that out, right Cornell?

A discussion thread on Reddit specifically for Cornell first publicized the course in November. One user in the thread said the university “segregates BIPOC students into a separate rock climbing class” for those “who feel uncomfortable sharing the climbing wall with their white peers.” BIPOC, meaning the list of races mentioned in the course’s description in paragraph two.

According to an archived version of the course’s page on the Cornell website, the description of the $1,890 segregated rock-climbing course remained unchanged for at least three weeks after the Reddit post.

Only after Campus Reform reached out to university regarding the course’s description did they update it to currently read: “This class is designed to enable Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other people of color underrepresented in the sport of rock climbing to learn the sport and to feel included and supported. The class is open to all Cornell students interested in learning rock climbing with this special focus.”

A New York State “Human Rights Law” bans Cornell and other “non-sectarian educational institutions” from denying any services to students based on race, color, and other categories. This law supplements the federal Title VI law which bans the exclusion of anyone from federally funded programs based on their race and color.

A “Women’s Basic Rock Climbing” course is still available on the university’s website as of today. The class was designed to “emphasize the development and celebration of women as climbers. This class is for all people who identify as women.” We all know how long this one will remain as women’s rock-climbing if Biden gets his way having Miguel Cardona confirmed as Secretary of Education. On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order instructing schools to allow students to participate in sports corresponding with their gender identity. Cardona is an advocate for the same.

(Cover Photo: Cornell University)