Cornell University Student Faces Federal Charges Following Antisemitic Threats

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Cornell University Cancels Classes Following Violent Antisemitic Threats and Arrest of Student
Students walk through the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York, in April. Bing Guan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A Cornell University student accused of making antisemitic threats against Jewish students is expected to appear in federal court in Syracuse today.

Patrick Dai, a 21-year-old junior at Cornell, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with “posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New York’s Northern District. The charges stem from online posts Dai allegedly made threatening to harm Jewish students at the university.

In the posts, Dai reportedly threatened to “shoot up” the university’s predominantly kosher dining hall, 104 West, and said he would “bring an assault rifle to campus” and shoot Jewish people. The threats were posted on Sunday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Following the threats, Cornell University police increased patrols and security for Jewish students and organizations on campus. New York State Police also increased its security presence at the university, according to Governor Kathy Hochul.

The incident comes amid a reported spike in antisemitic incidents in the United States, which have increased nearly 400% in the days following an attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7. The Anti-Defamation League has said that antisemitism is reaching “historic levels” in the U.S.

Patrick Dai, the Cornell student arrested after allegedly posting antisemitic messages to an online forum, was suffering from “severe depression,” his parents told The Post. AP

In response to the rising antisemitism, the Biden administration announced new measures this week aimed at combating antisemitic incidents on U.S. college campuses. President Joe Biden has said he is “very” concerned about the rise of antisemitism.

Jewish students make up about 22% of the student body at Cornell, according to the university’s Hillel organization. Following the threats, Cornell Hillel warned students and staff to avoid the 104 West dining hall “out of an abundance of caution.”

Molly Goldstein, co-president of the Cornell Center for Jewish Living, told CNN that Jewish students on campus are “unbelievably terrified for their lives.” She added, “I never would have expected this to happen on my university campus.”

Governor Hochul told CNN on Tuesday that New York officials are taking reported acts of hate against Jewish, Palestinian, and Muslim residents very seriously. “This is not who New Yorkers are,” she said.

Dai is scheduled to appear in court at 2:30 p.m. today. It was not immediately clear if he has retained an attorney.