Cynthia Tseng/Sun Contributor

The Student Assembly gathers to discuss election guidelines in the Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room on Thurs, Feb 29, 2024.

March 14, 2024

Top Administrators Fail to Appear at Student Assembly Meeting About Interim Expressive Activity Policy

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On Thursday, the Student Assembly was slated to hold a council with three representatives from Cornell administration — Dean Marla Love, Provost Michael Kotlikoff and Vice President and General Counsel Donica Varner.

But Love was the only representative to appear for the meeting, prompting a postponement.

According to a representative of Cornell Media Relations, due to a calendar mixup, the meeting was not formally added to Varner, Kotlikoff or Love’s schedules. The conversation will be rescheduled for the next available S.A. meeting, the representative wrote in a statement to The Sun.

The administrator’s appearance was intended to converse with S.A. members about the heavily criticized Interim Expressive Activity Policy, according to Executive Vice President Claire Ting ’25 in a written statement to The Sun.

Enacted on Jan. 24, the interim policy added restrictions on expressive activity, including measures against carrying sticks and poles in protests and limited hours for amplified sound.

Both the S.A. and the Faculty Senate have claimed they were not properly consulted by the Cornell administration in the policy’s implementation. On Feb. 22, The S.A. unanimously passed Resolution 58 to call for the interim policy’s suspension until a process for formal consultation with the University assemblies is finalized. 

“Two of our three guests are delayed and we’re going to have to reschedule,” Love announced upon her entrance.

Love did not provide any additional context for their absence at the meeting. 

When asked when the meeting would be rescheduled by an S.A. member, Love responded: “We’ll have to look at the calendar.”

Love did not provide any further scheduling specifications at that point.

This postponement was unexpected by S.A. members, who had been awaiting the arrival of the administrative representatives.

The meeting was quickly adjourned, as the presenter for the only other agenda item — a resolution to establish the processes for the appointment of vacant representative seats — was absent due to illness. 

This postponement comes three days after the University reduced some expression policies and two days after faculty protested the interim policy in front of Day Hall.

In an interview with The Sun the day before the meeting, Varner emphasized that a process of “broad consultation” between administrators, faculty, staff and students would be utilized to assess the policy throughout the semester. The final policy will be presented to the University Assembly in the fall, according to the announcement of the updated interim policy.

“What we’ve realized in the past month or so, two months now, is that there is an appetite and a strong desire to be more engaged,” Varner told The Sun in the Wednesday interview. “And so we’re creating more space for that engagement.”

Update, 3/15, 10:02 a.m.: This article has been updated to include scheduling information from a representative of Cornell Media Relations.