Cornell University students have left campus and are afraid to sleep in their rooms after violent online threats were made against Jewish pupils

  • Violent, antisemitic threats were made online against Jewish students at Cornell University.

  • The weekend threats have left students at the New York college in fear and feeling uneasy.

  • Cornell University police have launched an investigation into the matter and notified the FBI.

Jewish students at Cornell University are "scared to sleep here" after violent, antisemitic threats were made online against the New York college amid the Israel-Hamas war.

The threats, which were posted online over the weekend, forced some students at the Ivy League university to leave the Ithaca campus because they were too afraid to sleep in their rooms, the president of the college's Center for Jewish Living told The Cornell Daily Sun, the school's student newspaper.

On Tuesday evening, the university and the US Attorney's office announced that the student, Patrick Dai, 21, was arrested and charged with posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications. Dai is accused of posting messages calling for the deaths of Jewish people in an online forum.

"The first reaction from all the students on the ground is genuine fear," Molly Goldstein, the center's president, told the newspaper in a report published on Sunday.

Goldstein said, "We've been getting calls from people who weren't on the complex asking if it's safe for them to come back to their room tonight," and added, "We've had people who are too scared to sleep here tonight. So they've gone to other places in Ithaca for their safety."

A Jewish senior at Cornell told Insider on Monday that many students on campus are "pretty scared and pretty uneasy" because of the threats.

"My parents are really concerned and I know I am not alone in that kind of climate," she said. "It's stressful."

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks on Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas and the Jewish state's retaliatory bombardment of Gaza, there has been "a lot of anger and tensions are running very high" on Cornell's campus, the senior said.

"But threatening Jewish students," the student said, "feels really unfair."

Cornell University President Martha Pollack said in a Sunday statement that "a series of horrendous, antisemitic messages threatening violence to our Jewish community and specifically naming 104 West — the home of the Center for Jewish Living — was posted on a website unaffiliated with Cornell."

Pollack said that Cornell University Police are investigating and would remain posted up at 104 West, where the school's kosher and multicultural dining hall is also located, "to ensure our students and community members are safe."

The police department has notified the FBI about the threats as a "potential hate crime," according to Pollack.

"Threats of violence are absolutely intolerable, and we will work to ensure that the person or people who posted them are punished to the full extent of the law. Our immediate focus is on keeping the community safe; we will continue to prioritize that." Pollack said. "We will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell."

According to The Cornell Daily Sun, the now-removed online threats were posted on Saturday and Sunday to Greekrank, a ranking and discussion site for fraternity and sorority chapters at colleges.

The posts included a shooting threat at 104 West and called for violence against Jewish students, according to the student newspaper.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Tuesday that a "person of interest" in the case was in the custody of the New York State Police for questioning.

"When I met with Cornell students yesterday, I promised them New York State would do everything possible to find the perpetrator who threatened a mass shooting and antisemitic violence on campus," Hochul said in a statement. "Public safety is my top priority and I'm committed to combatting hate and bias wherever it rears its ugly head."

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war earlier this month, Cornell's campus has seen regular demonstrations, mostly in support of Palestine, according to the student who Insider spoke to. A Cornell history professor recently made headlines for calling the Hamas attacks on Israel "exhilarating" and "energizing" at an off-campus rally.

October 31, 2023: This story was updated to include the arrest of Patrick Dai.

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