Last week, the University Assembly passed Resolution 9, titled “Resolution to Clarify Responsible Free Expression in the Campus Code of Conduct,” to clarify restrictions that the University had in place regarding exhibition of free speech on campus. We commend Cornell for taking the necessary steps to clarify the Code of Conduct through Resolution 9, and we urge the University to continue providing its students the space for freedom of speech.
This resolution, which was passed Tuesday, was proposed following an incident in Nov. 2012, when confusion over Cornell’s Use of University Property permit requirements for on-campus protests exposed a discrepancy over rules that govern students’ rights to congregate without a prior request in certain areas of campus. At the time, the Cornell University Police Department broke up rallies held by the Cornell Israel Public Affairs Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine. CUPD removed SJP from Ho Plaza, however, because they did not possess the appropriate permits to occupy the space. In an editorial last May, we called for the University to clarify UUP guidelines and solidify what each section of the guidelines meant to avoid a similar misunderstanding over campus freedom of speech rights from happening again.
Resolution 9 works to take out the ambiguous language in the previous legislation and the Campus Code of Conduct. We applaud the University for its work to make its free speech policies more clear. The changes to the Code of Conduct remove the requirement for a permit for certain spaces, allowing outdoor picketing, marches, rallies and other demonstrations. They also included what would occur if a counter protest occurs. However, the University still ensures that if an extracurricular group or a private party has filed appropriate paperwork, then they will have the right to the space without disruption.
We laud the University’s work on passing this resolution in support of student’s right to free speech. Resolution 9 does seemingly resolve the policy holes that were present in the Campus Code of Conduct. However, we do question why the University Assembly took until now, over a year after the initial incident, to pass this resolution. But despite this, we believe these changes to the Code will help ensure the rights of Cornellians are upheld in the future.