Cornell is one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S., full of some of the brightest minds of the youngest generation.
While it may come as a shock to most, it wasn't a surprise to anyone in the room or those watching on Facebook Live. While most of her peers in "Acting in Public: Performance in Everyday Life" class took her side, questioning Maggor's perception of men, one of the students defended the professor's remarks, saying Chai should dress more conservatively for the sake of morality.
"She, a white woman, continued: 'Your shorts are too short'".
"The first thing that the professor said to me was 'is that really what you would wear?". The course does not have a formal dress code but asks students to "dress appropriately for the persona [they] will present, the Sun reported". Of the 44 students in the classroom, 28 students also stripped down to their underwear in protest.
Chai appeared angry and was in tears as she disrobed, according to published reports.
Chai's opening statement: "On Wednesday I sent out a plea for solidarity, solidarity with individuals like myself who have been asked to question ourselves, specifically our appearance for the comfort of others". "I do not tell my students what to wear, nor do I define for them what constitutes appropriate dress", Maggor said in an email to the Sun.
It was then that Chai said she made a decision to leave the room, followed by the professor, who allegedly asked Chai what her mother would think of her clothing, to which Chai allegedly replied: "My mom is a feminist, gender and sexuality studies professor".
Hours later, Chai took to Facebook and shared her experience, inviting the readers to attend her presentation wearing their favorite underwear.
Chai, who was dressed in a blue button-down shirt and cutoff jean shorts, told the student newspaper she "was so taken aback" by Maggor's question that she "didn't really know how to respond". "I'm going to give the best damn speech of my life", she said. The Assistant Professor who questioned student Chai over wearing shorts is named Rebekah Maggor.
The class issued a joint statement in which they said professor Maggor's comment had "error in phrasing" but what she was pointing out was "importance of professionalism in certain public speaking situations". She wholeheartedly agreed that her initial comment was about professionalism rather than the "male gaze" mentioned in the student discussion. Chai wrote in a Facebook post about the incident. "She also apologized for her choice of words, acknowledging that the notion of "short shorts" on women carries a lot of cultural and political baggage".
"This is for every Asian woman who was told to speak up lest others think she's submissive", she wrote.