Acknowledging and Learning from BIPOC Student Concerns

By IC News, May 3, 2023
A message from President La Jerne Terry Cornish

Dear Ithaca College Community, 

Like many colleges and universities, Ithaca College has been reckoning with questions and concerns about institutional racism. As we near the end of this academic year, we wanted to share with the campus community some updates on the continuing efforts to address the inequitable educational experiences of BIPOC students as well as some future plans to strengthen and grow this work. 

As you may know, over the past couple months IC Rise Up has been actively working to raise campus awareness regarding racial micro/macroaggressions and other racist acts that BIPOC students have experienced at the College. Recently, IC Rise Up shared a list of demands addressed to the Ithaca College administration with the campus community. 

We invited students to share their experiences at IC with members of the administration during two listening sessions in March and dedicated a portion of a session held on April 27 specifically to discussing the demands circulated by IC Rise Up.  

As part of our ongoing commitment to equity, Ithaca College will officially launch the newly created Center for Equity, Inclusion and Belonging on July 1. The center will be co-led by a three-person team that includes Dr. Belisa Gonzalez, Luca Maurer, and a yet-to-be-hired Human Resources staff member. The leadership model for this new center was intentionally designed to coordinate existing and future equity work between the three major constituencies of Ithaca College: students, faculty, and staff.  

Information gathered from community input, including most recently the themes shared by IC Rise Up, as well as past and future campus climate surveys and student voices, will help inform the work of the new center. The center will continue to gather feedback from students and other members of the campus community as part of this process. Details of this work, as well as other strategic initiatives the center will be focusing on during the upcoming year, will be posted on the website being planned for the Center for Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. 

We acknowledge that institutional change is too slow and that it is going to take an ongoing proactive effort by the entire community to enact that change. We would like to thank the students of IC Rise Up and all minoritized students, past and present, who have shared their experiences with us, which we know requires emotional labor. Painful as they are to sit with, we understand them as a gift and will honor them as we continue our path toward justice. 

We welcome members of the IC Community to join us in doing the vital work that addresses the themes that have emerged over the years and, most recently, in the IC Rise Up testimonials and demands. We look forward to sharing more information in the coming weeks on the many ways you can be involved in this work. 

We wish all of you a successful end to the spring semester and a restful summer. 


La Jerne Terry Cornish 

Melanie Stein 
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs 

Bonnie Solt Prunty 
Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life 

Luca Maurer 
Executive Director for Student Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging 

Dr. Belisa Gonzalez 
Dean of Faculty Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging