February 23, 2010

Letter to the Editor: Resolution 44 misses the point

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To the Editor:

Re: “Defining Resolution 44,” Opinion, Feb. 23

The sponsors of Resolution 44 fail to acknowledge freedom of association. They ostensibly attempt to address discrimination in student groups as a response to last year’s Chi Alpha incident, where a student group asked one of its leaders to step down after he disavowed core tenets of the group’s beliefs. However, among the many problems with the resolution, there are two glaring problems highlighted in their proffered justification for the policy. First, they completely overlook the chilling effect that will burden free speech. It doesn’t matter if the policy will be applied over-broadly or not (although if it were, that would certainly be quite deplorable); the sheer fact that its language is over-broad is sufficient to reject the policy because the mere potential for censorship impermissibly chills free speech in the marketplace of ideas. Second, although they claim that this policy will not be “judging what religious doctrines are approved,” that is precisely what the drafters are doing when they preclude certain values from being funded “on the student body’s dime.”

Moreover, this resolution reaches far beyond that dime of the student body. This resolution will bar groups espousing ideas that its supporters disagree with from all of the following: (1) accessing funds from the SAFC, GPSAFC and other campus sources; (2) office space and/or mailboxes in Willard Straight; (3) inclusion on the list of student organizations on the Student Activities Office (SAO) website; (4) participation in the annual Student Activities Fair/Street Fair; (5) receiving club insurance coverage; (6) conducting fund-raising activities on campus; (7) using university property and services; (8) a home page on the Registered Student Organization server; (9) sponsoring programs and activities; and (10) the event-planning consultation services of the SAO. Under Resolution 44 certain student groups will not only be de-funded but they will be entirely exiled from the marketplace of ideas at Cornell. The disingenuous framing of this resolution as a simple matter of funding poses a grave threat to the campus community. There is much more at stake.

That is Resolution 44, and that is why it is unacceptable.

John Cetta ’10, undergraduate representative, University Assembly

liaison to and convener of, Codes and Judicial Committee

Chris Basil ’10, vice president for finance, Student Assembly