Feb. 20, 2005

Rawlings condemns violence as sophomore is arraigned for allegedly stabbing visiting black student

Cornell sophomore Nathan H. Poffenbarger, 20, of Woodsboro, Md., was charged Sunday morning (Feb. 19) with felony assault for allegedly stabbing 22-year-old Charles Holiday, a black Union College senior from Brooklyn, N.Y., who was visiting the Cornell campus.

Holiday is in stable condition at Arnot Ogden Hospital in Elmira, N.Y.

Poffenbarger, who transferred to the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell in September, was arraigned in Ithaca City Court on the second degree assault charge, a class "D" felony, and jailed at the Tompkins County Jail on $20,000 cash/$40,000 bail bond. He is scheduled to appear in court again Tuesday morning; further charges are pending as the Tompkins County District Attorneys Office continues its investigation.

In a statement, Cornell interim president Hunter R. Rawlings said that the university community was "stunned and outraged to learn that a visitor to Cornell had been stabbed on our campus, and that one of our students has been charged with the crime."

The incident occurred very early Saturday near Baker Tower archway on West Avenue. Poffenbarger, a white male, had reportedly been yelling "racial slurs" and according to university officials, Holiday confronted the Cornell student, who then allegedly stabbed him.

Poffenbarger reportedly stabbed the victim in the upper chest area during the altercation and then fled on foot but turned himself in to Cornell Police on Saturday night.

In his statement, Rawlings condemned violence of any sort as well as the presence of weapons on campus. "Now that the matter is in the hands of the local law enforcement agencies, and with the campus Judicial Administrator, we are confident that the authorities will ensure that justice is done in this case," he said.

"We are all anxious to know and understand what happened as soon as possible, but officials involved must use discretion to allow proper consideration of the case," added Rawlings.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Cornell University Police at (607) 255-1111 or the Ithaca Police Department at (607) 272-9973.