April 6, 2011

Letter to the Editor: Defending campus liberalism

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To the Editor:

Re: “Ezra Was a Republican,” Opinion, April 4

Monday’s column had the facts wrong and drew erroneous conclusions. The record must be corrected. Congressman Barney Frank was not paid to speak at Cornell; he visited because of the connections that have been formed between the Cornell Democrats and the Tompkins County Democratic Committee through our work on local issues and campaigns. The Cornell Democrats were very privileged to have the congressman speak while he was in Ithaca, but we were only given four days’ notice of his plans to speak to us. The event was relatively small because of the short planning timeline and because Congressman Frank’s visit was on a Sunday afternoon.

For the author to assert that the Cornell Democrats are no longer interested in engaging with the Cornell community or the public discussion is demonstrably untrue. The Cornell Democrats have hosted professors to discuss methods of health care reform, debated the Cornell Republicans on a wide range of issues from financial reform to our upcoming debate on marriage equality and reproductive freedom. Events like Congressman Barney Frank visiting are only possible because of the Cornell Democrats’ involvement in the community.

What the Cornell Democrats are not is a group funded by deep-pocketed outside interests, who make it possible for other groups to bring high profile speakers year after year, with a price tag to match. The Cornell Democrats have a long history of working locally for candidates and causes that we believe in, including enlisting over 100 students to campaign for President Obama and other Democrats in the 2008 and 2010 elections. This is to say nothing about the numerous other progressive groups on campus, like the Cornell Organization for Labor Action, Sustainability Hub and the Gay-Straight Alliance.

The Cornell Democrats did not willfully under-publicize his appearance. We have and will continue to promote our views and engage in meaningful debate on the issues. The author’s assertions to the contrary are ill-informed.

Terry Moynihan ’11, president of the Cornell Democrats, and Mike Schillawski ’10, president emeritus of the Cornell Democrats