Cornell University Clamps Down on Campus Free Speech

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Cornell University
PC: Connor Lange/The Ithacan
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The Cornell University student government recently voted to clamp down on student’s First Amendment rights on campus, claiming that such a move would revise the school’s current judicial code and help to limit hate speech towards students.

Prior to that vote, hundreds of students stormed a meeting of the Cornell University Student Assembly in an effort to pressure them into reforming the school’s code of conduct. Their takeover seemed to have worked, and the Student Assembly voted 19-0 in favor of a change, with one abstention.

“I’ve seen some people attacking this resolution and going against it to say that we need [to] defend free speech and we absolutely don’t need to do that,” Assembly member Dara Tokunboh told the Cornell Daily Sun, re-asserting the position that is becoming all too common on college campuses that the First Amendment takes a back seat to our emotions.

In a Facebook post, the school’s Black Students Union told readers “For those who are unaware, the University Assembly was responsible for the creation of the campus judicial code. This judicial code is a key instrument in protecting white supremacists from receiving consequences for using hate speech by declaring their words as an exercise of their freedom of speech,” before encouraging members to “please remember to wear all black!” when they invaded the assembly meeting.

The demand for reform comes after a pair of alleged racist attacks against minority students on campus. The first stems from a group of fraternity members that were heard chanting “build the wall” near Latino students, and the second comes from a murky incident involving a racially motivated attack on an African American student. The victim claims he was called racial slurs as he was violently assaulted by fraternity members, but his supposed assailant, while admitting he used expletives, insists he was “in no way involved in any physical altercation of any kind.”

University president Martha Pollack has said that she has heard the demands and the results of the vote, and is doing what she can to enforce them. “I can’t promise there will never be another racist incident,” she cautioned. “This is a scourge across the country, but I’m going to work with all of you to do everything we can.”

What do you think about this change at Cornell University? Let us know in the comments!

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