Jessica Zhang

Jessica Zhang (Photo: Instagram)

A group calling themselves the Concerned Cornell Students Coalition are gaining national attention after demanding that the university rescind the acceptance of a Cornell student, Jessica Zhang ‘24,  who was recently seen in a video attending a large-gathering without a mask. 

Zhang, who is a popular TikTok influencer famous for her content which centers around her time at the university, because she is reported to have “hosted and attended parties” that did not participate in social distancing. 

“Jessica Zhang has shown that she does not care to comply with public safety measures and wants to put other citizens at risk for the sake of her own entertainment. These are NOT what Cornell students value and she is a horrible representation of what the university stands for during a GLOBAL PANDEMIC,” states the petition. 

The petition includes a dropbox folder that includes links to all of the videos that show Zhang and 12 of her friends taking photos at a house party without masks and arm wrestling. The petition, which was started on Monday, has already garnered nearly 3,000 signatures in support of the measure. 

The petition continues: “We need to hold these students accountable for their actions. If this is the type of behavior that Jessica Zhang is willing to publicly show, she does not need to be a student at Cornell-- risking the lives of many other underprivileged students and Ithacans who do not have the resources/means to leave Ithaca or travel back to their homes.”

Cornell does have a Behavioral Compact that students are required to sign before returning to school this fall. The contract outlines expectations from the university of its students as they return to campus. It also threatens “temporary suspension from the university while the disciplinary matter is pending and sanctions up to and including dismissal from the university should [the student] be found responsible,” by the Office of the Judiciary Administrator. 

The compact specifies that social functions should have no more than 30 people in attendance who maintain a six-foot physical distance while wearing face coverings at all times. It’s unclear how many people attended Zhang’s party, in total. Other students who attended the gathering have not been named or identified in the petition. 

The compact that students are required to sign does state that students refrain from “organizing, hosting, or attending events, parties, or other social gatherings on or off-campus that may cause safety risks to me and other members of the community.”

The students behind the petition are calling on the school to take an active stand against Cornell students who violate their code of conduct as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic rather than turning a blind eye. Following growing reports of students’ attending large gatherings, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that “If clusters of positive cases emerge on particular areas of a campus while still below five percent or under 100 students, but strain the college's ability to isolate and contact trace, the college must return to 100 percent distance learning with limited on-campus activity.”

Students are also able to report on another via the university’s reporting tool COVID-19 

Zhang’s TikTok boasts over 500,000 followers and a rising number of content likes that currently sit above 12 million. She usually gives her followers tips and life hacks to help ease the anxieties of college life. She covers topics like admissions, budgeting, essay writing, scholarships, and studying tips.

According to the Washington Post, Zhang said that she’s been unfairly targeted by her fellow students. She pointed out that a number of students around Collegetown are not wearing face coverings and said that she has said nothing of it. Zhang several statements now apologizing for her actions and asking for her classmates to forgive her. 

Vice President of Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi responded to a request for a statement from the university about the case against Jessica Zhang. “Cornell University is aware of nine, new positive COVID-19 cases detected within our student body. The students are in isolation and receiving proper care, and the Tompkins County Health Department is conducting contact tracing at this time. As I reminded our students in a message yesterday and again this afternoon, we must all do our part to follow Health Department and Cornell public health guidelines to limit the spread of the virus. Any student who is concerned about potential exposure should contact Cornell Health.”


Interim Managing Editor

Glenn Epps is an Ithaca College alum who's held previously held positions at The Ithacan as a reporter and podcaster, Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, and Ithaca's Kitchen Theatre Company. He's an active tweeterhead at glenn_epps_.

(10) comments

John Butler has turned into the vigilante hanging mob of the 19th/20th century. In our "new world", the assumption of guilt over powers ones right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty. Those accused dont even get a chance to speak. We have lost so much in such a short time.

Wait , it's coming to YOU soon.......

Eddie Coyle

You no longer need even a shred of physical courage to belong to a physical mob, the internet has turned the meekest, mildest milquetoast snowflakes into badasses and avengers.

Henry Kramer

There may need to be disciplinary sanctions short of suspension or expulsion which can pretty much ruin a student's life. Meanwhile, we don't have the facts, how many at the party, whether the mask was off for only a moment or for a long time but there is the rush to judgment that is all too common these days before investigation. Second, and more important, is the culture of informing. Totalitarian states require people to inform on their family, neighbors, and friends. We don't need a Cornell gestapo aided and abetted by students spying on and reporting each other. The damage from that outweighs the regulations. And, it opens to door to false accusations and witch hunting. The fact is that thousands of students have signed a petition to dismiss a student without knowing what really happened. Today it is her, tomorrow it could be you.

Michael Bryant

So much of what is happening now reminds me of Shirley Jackson's famous short story, "The Lottery."

In agreement with others here that this "new normal" of internet/twitter/redditt smearing with guilt before all the facts are in is a warning sign of how fascistic systems operate. Ithaca itself has become just this sort of environment- ironic isn't it? Or maybe it's not irony.

Also shame on this publication for putting that person's photo up there. You should rescind that immediately. I know if I were her parents and saw this story with that photo I would be speaking to a lawyer tomorrow. Innocent until proven guilty no longer matters it seems. Trial by social media nowadays.

On another note can we get some actual in-depth stories about how PCR tests produce massive amounts of false positives? For example 77 out 77 NFL players were false positives. 3,700 just discovered in Sweden. And look into the number of cycles used in PCR tests which can lead to false positives. Even the NY Times reported on that last weekend. That's not a little thing as our lives are being held hostage by these tests (which were never intended for diagnostics BTW). Remember the 2006 false epidemic of whooping cough at Dartmouth using PCR tests? 100% false positives once they used an actual tests that was the gold standard for whooping cough. Gina Colata wrote that story- look it up. Do some research and journalism please.

And how about another story on how Cuomo/Zucker are withholding information on nursing home deaths- info that is readily available and will show the actual death total in NY to be twice what they have stated.

And why not do another story on the statistics of the actual "Covid" death toll and young people as they seem to be getting punished quite a bit here for something that has zero risk for them. Maybe the risk for those under 65 is way lower than what people think- we need better information to be published on all news outlets.

Rather breathtaking to see the level of disinformation and fear mongering that has taken hold in the last 6 months. Let's not forgot the average age of a "Covid death" in ALL Western countries EXCEEDS normal lifespans. And those deaths have on average 2.5 serious pre-existing conditions. That's a "global pandemic?"

Frynella Higgenbothom

Ummmm....her photo's everywhere. She's an online influencer. Having as many people as possible look at their face is kind of their thing.

Travis Mills

I’m with Jessica Zhang. Libtards have a mental disorder. This is America Land of the Free Trump 2020 idiot Liberals. Covid is a Fake pandemic. Socialism is Communism wake up America

Brad Rigers

Quite a reality check for me! Where, apparently, students at one of the most prestigious colleges in the world classify themselves as “underprivileged” And apparently, stuck in a college town for the summer or something. At some point, this will stop, yes? People attending a $60,000 per year university will view themselves as the indescribably fortunate human beings they are, rather than sharecroppers in antebellum Georgia

Richard Treadwell

Hi, we're the Cornell Karens, here to meddle in every aspect of your lives.

John Gregoire

Why won't Ithaca wake up and insist Cornell go to online only classes? The spikes since students returned have been horrible and puts the entire community at greater risk. I believe it was a decision based on making money not science or common sense.

John Butler

Left wing socialist students are immune to the Covid-19 virus. This has been verified by the main stream media with stories of the protests, funerals, gatherings, riots, looting and arsons without any contamination to other parties involved. No need for on line classes.

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