News & Politics

Cornell student arraigned for allegedly posting threatening, antisemitic messages

Patrick Dai, a junior, waived his right to a detention hearing, meaning he will be held in jail until his preliminary hearing.

Cornell University will be closed Friday after a student was charged with making antisemitic threats.

Cornell University will be closed Friday after a student was charged with making antisemitic threats. Jupiterimages / Getty Images

Patrick Dai, a junior studying computer science at Cornell University in the college of engineering, was arraigned Wednesday on federal charges of posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications in the Northern District of New York in Syracuse. Dai waived his right to his immediate detention hearing, meaning he will be held at the Broome County Jail to await his preliminary hearing scheduled in two weeks.

Dai was charged with Interstate Communication under Title 18 § 875 (c), which prohibits the transmission of “any communication containing any threat… to injure the person of another.” 

Over the past weekend, threatening antisemitic posts appeared on Greekrank, an anonymous discussion forum about college sorority and fraternity life with a reputation for problematic postings. 

The posts threatened Jewish students with graphic violence and threatened a mass shooting at 104West!, the campus Center for Jewish Living and kosher dining hall.

In a recorded interview at the Cornell Police Department with FBI Special Agent Michael Renn, Dai admitted to making the Greekrank posts. 

Dai entered the courtroom filled with reporters along with his parents and a family friend to have his charges read to him. Dai appeared somber and had his head down for most of the hearing. His parents attempted to make eye contact with him, yet Dai did not turn to face the gallery.

Dai will make his next court appearance on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. in Syracuse for the preliminary hearing, where the prosecution will present the evidence to prove the necessity of a trial and the magistrate judge evaluates findings to determine the probable cause related to the charges. However, the judge said that this preliminary hearing will not be necessary if a grand jury indicts Dai first.

On campus, Dai was an undergraduate consultant for a computer science course on MATLAB, a coding language, and involved in the Science Olympiad team. He was also previously an orientation leader, and later promoted to supervisor. However, online Dai keeps a low profile with a minimal social media presence. He has only one post on his Instagram account and no friends or posts on his Facebook.

Dai’s father told the New York Post that his son has never had a history of violence and that after one year at Cornell his son changed and became depressed.

“He was always very nice to society, well organized, helpful to my family and his classmates before 2021,” his father told the New York Post. “He told us he lost his life goal and motivation… As parents, we tried to give him more love.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Cornell administrators announced the cancellation of classes Friday for a community restorative day. Faculty and staff are excused for the day, with exception of employees who provide essential services to the campus.