Cayuga’s Waiters Issue Statement on A Cappella Group's Permanent Dismissal by Cornell University

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Group seeks partnership with Cornell administration in a resolution that includes disciplinary measures over instances of hazing while preserving an honored part of Cornell heritage.

Cayuga’s Waiters Alumni today released an official statement regarding the dismissal of Cayuga’s Waiters a cappella group by Cornell University due to allegations of hazing. The full text is available at

“Cayuga’s Waiters Alumni and our Advisory Board stand with Cornell University in condemning hazing in all its forms. Our alumni were shocked and saddened when the allegations against group members came to light. The incidents in question largely represent the actions of a few former members, who have been expelled from Cayuga’s Waiters Alumni. We appreciate the University’s direct response to these actions, however, we remain concerned about the following issues:

  • Over a number of years, requests for help in changing group culture made by Cayuga’s Waiters to Cornell through its official hazing reporting channels went unanswered.
  • The judicial process punished on-campus group members who were themselves victims of hazing, and who had to defend themselves at great expense and under emotional duress.
  • Cayuga’s Waiters, the Advisory Board, and Cornell administrators were working on a plan set forth by Cornell to get the group back on track when the initial disciplinary finding was appealed and overturned by request of the Judicial Administrator’s Office.

“Last fall, Cayuga’s Waiters Alumni and the Advisory Board put forward a disciplinary plan that included a lengthy suspension for the on-campus group, development of new governance structures in partnership with Cornell, and reinstatement of the on-campus group under the supervision of the Advisory Board. To date, Cornell has refused this outreach. Cayuga’s Waiters Alumni still hope to implement such a plan in partnership with Cornell.”

About the Cayuga’s Waiters Alumni and the Advisory Board:
Cayuga’s Waiters Alumni are an association of 321 Cornell alumni around the world who performed with Cayuga’s Waiters, the oldest a cappella singing group at Cornell University. Waiter alumni continue to perform at Cornell events, the annual Cornell Reunions that take place in Ithaca each June, and at social and charity events across the country. The alumni group “Cayuga’s Waiters of the 1950s” were featured in a 2016 documentary short, “Old Men Singing” (View the trailer at The Advisory Board was formed in 2016 at the request of the University Hearing Board (UHB) of Cornell to help overhaul group governance and lead Cayuga’s Waiters re-establishment on campus after a UHB-mandated disciplinary probation. Cayuga’s Waiters Alumni plans to continue its mission of outreach to preserve the spirit of fellowship and music that is the lasting legacy of Cayuga’s Waiters.

About Cayuga’s Waiters:
Cayuga's Waiters formed as a 12-voice subset of the Cornell University Glee Club in 1949--a so-called "triple quartet"--and debuted at the Glee Club's 1950 Junior Week concert. The name was chosen as a play on the first line of Cornell's alma mater. The Waiters have been international ambassadors for Cornell. They have performed in Bonaire, St. Maarten, Barbados, The Canary Islands, Puerto Rico, Walt Disney World, Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster in London, and The White House. The group also appeared on television several times, including the Perry Como Show in 1953, The CBS Early Show in 2008, and singing the US national anthem before a Los Angeles Kings hockey game in 2010. In 1974, the Waiters performed their first "Spring Fever" concert. Now a Cornell institution, the show sold out the 1,300 seats in Bailey Hall for more than 35 years. In the mid-1990s, the Waiters wrote a parody of the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire" titled "We Didn't Go To Harvard." Essentially a list of things, places, and traditions unique to Cornell, the song is updated regularly to reflect changes to the Cornell student experience. Singing along to the song with the Waiters is #4 on The Cornell Daily Sun's list of "161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do," ahead of other hallowed traditions such as sledding down Libe Slope (#5) and attending Dragon Day (#33). Since 1953, the Waiters have recorded 25 albums.

Nat Comisar
Cayuga’s Waiters Alumni Advisory Board

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