To the Editor:
Re: “A Campus Code That Permits Discrimination,” Opinion, Nov. 24
I was relieved to find subsequent articles challenging many of the highly dubious claims made in this initial editorial. However, a few omissions and mischaracterizations remain unaddressed.
First, the editorial falsely claims (as many others have) that Chi Alpha removed Chris Donohoe ’10 from his leadership position because of his sexual orientation — because of his status. This distorts the actual facts of the incident. As The Sun itself reported last spring, Donohoe’s sexual orientation was known by the group before he assumed his leadership position. The group chose him as a leader because he believed in the doctrine of the group. Donohoe was only asked to step down after he later disaffirmed his belief that homosexual acts are sinful — one of the group’s founding beliefs. Freedom of association requires groups be free to limit their leadership to those who belief in the founding tenets of their group, however unsavory those beliefs may be.
Second, the editorial ignores the fact that Donohoe was still a welcomed member of the group — he was simply asked to leave his leadership position. This is important because Cornell already does proscribe discrimination in the membership of student groups. In order to register with the Student Activities Office and become eligible for SAFC funding, the organization must comply with the SAO’s policy on non-discrimination, which reads, “the [organization] shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color . . . sexual orientation, or age when determining its membership.”
Finally, this paradigm does not create “an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, which threatens free expression,” as alleged by the editorial. The Chi Alpha incident sparked a heated and persistent campus debate. Numerous letters to the editor have been written. Assemblies and prayer vigils have been held. Free expression is clearly alive and vibrant on our campus. It even sparked this critical evaluation of campus policy. The Chi Alpha incident has catalyzed, not threatened, the bountiful dialogue. That, after all, is the point of an unimpeded marketplace of ideas with freedom of speech and freedom of association.
John Cetta ’10
Liaison to Codes and Judicial Committee,
FIRE Summer Intern ’09