While delivering a presentation, a Cornell University student, Letitia Chai, stripped down to her underwear to make a point.
Chai was repeatedly told by her professor days prior, that her shorts were “too short.”
Fighting off the tears, Chai a fourth year student, began first be removing her shoes, and continued until she was only in her underwear.
Chai had this to say: “I am more than Asian. I am more than a woman. I am more than Letitia Chai. I am a human being,” she said while undressing. “And I ask you to take this leap of faith, to take this next step, or rather this next strip, in our movement and to join me in revealing to each other and to seeing each other for who we truly are members of the human race.”
Seeing Chai, 28 of the nearly 50 people also started taking their clothes off, as reported. Chai’s story didn’t hit national news until Thursday even though the protest took place last week.
On May 2, Chai gave a trial run of her thesis in her class “Acting in public: performance in everyday life,” to which professor Rebekah Maggor chided the students choice of outfit.
According to a Facebook post, Maggor allegedly asked Chai, “Is that really what you would wear?”
On her Facebook post, Chai wrote:
“The professor proceeded to tell me, in front of my whole class, that I was inviting the male gaze away from the content of my presentation and onto my body.” She continued. “She said I was making a statement by wearing my outfit. I told her that I sure as hell wouldn’t change my statement to make her or anyone else feels more comfortable.”
After Chai’s Facebook post, Maggor was contacted in an email to which she responded, “I do not tell my students what to wear, nor do I define for them what constitutes appropriate dress. “I ask them to reflect for themselves and make their own decisions.”
Eleven out of 13 students in Maggor’s class went on record to say that Chai may have exaggerated the situation on Facebook. They wrote that Maggor had “apologized on more than one occasion.”
The statement reads, “We strongly support and identify with Letitia’s fight for equality ... The majority of us are students of color, from multi-ethnic backgrounds, who very much relate to Letitia’s frustration with systemic oppression that is part of the fabric of this country. We do not want to discredit her narrative. However, we feel it is important and our obligation to share our impression of Wednesday’s events to provide a fair representation of the situation.”
Chai has not been able to comment on the situation further, and Maggor too has been unable to provide additional comments.
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