In response to the arrest of an engineering student at Cornell University for allegedly promoting the murder of Jewish students on campus, university officials have decided to cancel the regular class schedule on Friday.
This action comes after federal authorities charged the student, Patrick Dai, with posting threatening messages online. Instead of classes, the university will observe a “community day” where students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to reflect on nurturing a caring and supportive community.
The arrest followed the discovery of anonymous online threats targeting Jewish students at Cornell. Screenshots allegedly taken from the Greek Rank website displayed disturbing messages, including calls for the elimination of Jewish presence on campus and threats of violence against specific locations. The Joint Terrorism Task Force identified Patrick Dai, a student enrolled in Cornell’s School of Engineering, as the suspect within 48 hours of committing the crime.
On Tuesday, 21-year-old Dai was arrested and charged with using interstate communications to post threats and promote violence against others. The complaint against Dai states that he allegedly posted messages on an online discussion site advocating for the murder of Jewish individuals and planning a mass shooting at a Cornell University dining hall that caters to Kosher diets and is located near the Cornell Jewish Center. These posts contained explicit and violent language, expressing his intentions to harm Jewish individuals on campus.
If convicted, Dai could face up to three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, or a possible prison term of up to five years. Dai did not enter a plea during his appearance in federal court on Wednesday. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for November 15, and he has been assigned a federal public defender.
In response to these disturbing events, Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack issued a statement denouncing the antisemitic posts and expressing concern for the university community. She acknowledged the difficult days the university has faced and assured increased campus security, particularly in high-priority areas.
These incidents occur amidst a troubling rise in threats against Jewish communities in the U.S., which have been fueled by the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. Preliminary data from the Anti-Defamation League indicates a significant increase in incidents of antisemitic harassment, vandalism, and assault since the conflict began, highlighting the need for continued vigilance and support for affected communities.