Cornell University has cancelled all classes on Friday due to the “extraordinary stress” that has spread across the campus after a student was arrested for making violent antisemitic threats.
Patrick Dai, 21, allegedly made violent threats against Jewish people at the Ivy League college in online statements, “posting threats to kill or injure another,” the attorney’s office of the Northern District of New York said on Tuesday.
Mr Dai has been arrested, but the threats posed towards the students have encouraged the state and campus police to reinforce their presence on campus.
There are approximately 3,500 Jewish students at Cornell, which makes up 22 per cent of the entire student population, according to Hillel, an international Jewish campus organisation.
As the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, Jews, Muslims and Palestinians in the US have all observed their increased fear of hate-induced threats and crimes against each group.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations on 25 October said it has 800 complaints and reported incidents of bias against Muslims across the nation since the war broke out on 7 October.
In light of the threats posed by Dai and the overwhelming sense of fear that it could happen again, the university will use Friday as a community day “in recognition of the extraordinary stress of the past few weeks,” a Cornell spokesperson told CNN.
As well as Mr Dai’s online violent threats, Cornell president Martha Pollack said in a statement that they received a “concerning crime alert.”
While the alert could not be validated, it “adds to the stress we are all feeling,” she said.
Mr Dai was immediately suspended from Cornell upon his arrest.
“While we take some measure of relief in knowing that the alleged author of the vile antisemitic posts that threatened our Jewish community is in custody, it was disturbing to learn that he was a Cornell student,” Ms Pollack said.
The president also stressed that antisemitism is not tolerated at the university; the same goes for any form of hatred, including racism and Islamophobia.
Jewish students at Cornell told CBS that they were terrified and also outraged at the threats that had been made.
"Obviously completely vile, and completely unacceptable for something like that to be happening on a college campus in America in 2023," Gavi Schechter, a student at the school, said.
When asked if he felt safe, Mr Schechter replied, "I would say, compared to how I felt in September, no."
Other students wonder if they want to continue coming to campus next week.
"Even my family, last night we had a discussion whether it’s safe for me to be on campus or whether I should come back home," Cornell student Davian Gekman said.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she wanted to “make an example” of the alleged antisemitic student and is considering whether Mr Dai will also face state changes due to his threats.
“We’re going to run these cases all the way to the ground to make sure that people know you cannot get away with this here in the state of New York,” she said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Russell Rickford, a Cornell professor, was reportedly forced into a leave of absence after he labelled the Hamas attack on Israel “exhilarating” and “energising” at a pro-Palestinian rally, according to the Cornell Daily Sun.
The local outlet later shared a statement from the professor, who pleaded that he was sorry for his “horrible choice of words.”