What is free speech? We often proclaim its importance, but rarely is it defined. Free speech is when everyone, yes everyone, has the ability to speak and be heard respectfully. Shouting down speakers we disagree with is antithetical to free speech. In an academic environment such as Cornell, it is of fundamental importance to engage in various debates and to allow for a variety of opinions.
The ombudsman — who is “embedded in the university fabric” and “knows the quasi-legal structure of the university, the administrative, student, faculty, graduate and undergraduate levels” — can help Cornellians in ways that outside counsel could not, argued faculty representative Martin Hatch, professor emeritus of music.
In the first University Assembly meeting of the academic year yesterday, its members agreed to hold an additional discussion to analyze their organization’s role on campus.
This impromptu decision was the result of a major assembly initiative to rewrite the current U.A. Charter. Rewriting the U.A. Charter has been on the assembly’s agenda since last year and is a top priority for the recently re-elected chair of the assembly, Rodney Orme, who works in the Office of the Registrar. But when the initiative was mentioned at yesterday’s meeting, faculty representative Prof. Marty Hatch, music, encouraged his colleagues to first establish how the U.A.’s role on campus had changed since it was first created.
Cornell’s smoking policy has coincided with recent New York state legislation restricting the venues where smoking is acceptable. In 2003, New York State passed the Clean Indoor Air Act, prohibiting smoking in all indoor work environments. Last year, Gov. David Paterson signed legislation to ban smoking in all dorms in both public and private colleges in the state. Cornell’s current smoking policy reflects these pieces of legislation by prohibiting smoking in undergraduate residence halls, indoor facilities, enclosed bus stops and University-owned or controlled vehicles as well as within 25 feet of the entrance to any building.
Academic integrity is an issue prevalent at campuses across the country, and over the past semester it has come under increasing scrutiny at Cornell. Leading the initiative to reexamine Cornell’s current rules against cheating is the University Assembly’s Committee to Consider Academic Integrity, which hosted an open student forum yesterday afternoon to discuss Cornell’s current honor code and ways to model it after the honor systems at the University of Virginia and the University of Colorado.
The Campus Code of Conduct is quickly passing the remaining hurdles on its way to final implementation. Yesterday, in a letter to Rodney Orme, employee chair of the University Assembly, President David Skorton endorsed the current version of the Code.
“I look forward to working with the Judicial Administrator to employ law students in the prosecution of violations to the Code,” Skorton wrote.
The letter — which came just five days after the U.A. re-passed the code — further thanked the Codes and Judicial Committee and the U.A. for their many hours of work in helping to revise the Code since Skorton first rejected it in February.
The new Code of Judicial Conduct may finally be on its way to becoming a permanent part of Cornell policy. In a meeting yesterday, the University Assembly re-approved the CJC by a vote of 14-2, meaning that its next stop will be President David Skorton’s desk.
The U.A. approved the code last fall, but Skorton sent it back to the drawing board with two major issues. His rejection of the Code at the time raised controversy between Skorton, the CJC committee and U.A. However, in its current state — which Andrew Cowan law, vice-chair of the CJC Committee, touts as “something that nobody really likes but that everyone can swallow” — many believe it will eventually be adopted.
In the aftermath of the emergency University Assembly meeting held on Feb. 13, President Skorton and the U.A. have made some progress in trying to reach a compromise over the recent revisions to the Campus Code of Conduct.
On Feb. 18, Skorton met with members of the U.A. and the Codes and Judicial Committee to go over Skorton’s recommendations for the revised Code.
“The easy differences were hammered out and taken care of to everyone’s satisfaction,” said Prof. Randy Wayne, biology, a member of the U.A. “The difficult things weren’t.”
The University Assembly yesterday held an emergency meeting to discuss actions in response to an evaluation from President David Skorton on the Campus Code of Conduct, which had been revised by the Codes and Judicial Committee. In his critique, Skorton offered several changes to the Code, some of which were met with indignation and disappointment by members of the U.A.
“I was really disappointed,” said Prof. Randy Wayne, biology, a member of the U.A. at the meeting.