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Cornell students say influencer should be expelled for attending party without masks

The freshman admitted to attending a gathering without masks.


Samantha Shaps


Posted on Aug 27, 2020

Cornell University students are circulating a petition advocating for the expulsion of a freshman TikTok star who violated social distancing guidelines, the Washington Post reports.

Jessica Zhang, whose TikTok account zhangarang has over half a million followers on the app, is known for making videos regarding the college admissions process.

A petition created by the Concerned Student Coalition stated that Zhang hosted and attended parties and “does not care to comply to public safety measures.”

“These are NOT what Cornell students value and she is a horrible representation of what the university stands for during a GLOBAL PANDEMIC,” the petition said.

A Snapchat taken by Zhang says, “the people who slide up saying ‘you’re not social distancing’ are the ones that wouldn’t have been invited anyway.”

In an apology video posted Wednesday, Zhang said the post was “taken horribly out of context.”

“It was a self-deprecating jab at myself because I was clinically depressed in high school and my friends often hung out without me,” she said. “When they did this, I’d slide up reminding them to social distance, but it really hurt knowing that they didn’t want me around.”

Zhang said in a TikTok she hung out with a group of 12 people who all tested negative for COVID-19 and “wrongly believed it was safe to gather without masks.” She apologized to the Cornell and Ithaca communities.

Cornell, who did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment, published a student behavioral compact, which outlines safety procedures for its students. The compact emphasized social distancing.

The petition, which has over 2,300 signatures, is calling for Zhang’s expulsion.

Cornell student Faizaan Datoo commented on the petition that Zhang’s “selfish narcissism” is not welcome at Cornell.

“I hope that the university takes appropriate actions against you and others in attendance at that party,” they commented.

Commenter Brandon Davidson said that people should let Zhang “learn from her mistakes.”

“While social distancing needs to be taken seriously,” Davidson wrote. “We should NOT make cancel culture and ruining someone’s life reputation the norm on Cornell’s campus.”

Zhang, who did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment, told petitioners to check their facts.

“To the parents and students that are using me as a scapegoat, threatening me, harassing me, and petitioning to get me expelled please check your facts next time before you attempt to ruin another teenager’s life,” Zhang said in the TikTok video. “Because the next kid may not have the platform that I have to defend themselves.”

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H/T Washington Post

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*First Published: Aug 27, 2020, 12:46 pm CDT