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Ann Coulter ’84 returns to campus for her talk “Immigration: The Conspiracy To End America.”

April 17, 2024

Ann Coulter ’84 Appearance Leads to Faculty Arrest 

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Ann Coulter ’84, a controversial conservative media personality, made her return to campus on Tuesday with a talk entitled “Immigration: The Conspiracy To End America.”

Audiences largely did not disrupt Coulter. However, Prof. Monica Cornejo was arrested during the question and answer section due to disorderly behavior.

At Coulter’s last speaking appearance at Cornell in November 2022, numerous attendees protested, resulting in the removal of eight audience members and an early end to the event. 

In March, The Sun broke news of Coulter’s invitation to campus, which was spearheaded by Provost Michael Kotlikoff as an effort to allow diverse perspectives on campus during the current freedom of expression theme year. At the start of the event, Kotlikoff expressed it was important to allow Coulter to speak again — this time without interruption.

“We’re here really to correct something that happened a year and a half ago when [Coulter] who was invited by Cornell students was prevented from speaking at Cornell, something that I did not attend,” Kotlikoff said. “I wish to remind all participants that Cornell values free and open inquiry and expression and strives to create a community where diverse opinions can be expressed.”

Kotlikoff made it clear to attendees that Coulter had the right to speak without intimidation and that individuals who chose to interrupt the event would face consequences.

“Actions that prevent a speaker’s ability to be heard or the right of others to listen and see are a violation of University policy [and violators will] be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards or other appropriate officials, which may lead to a notation on the conduct record or transcript,” Kotlikoff said. 

Despite Kotlikoff’s insistence that the Cornell community values freedom of expression, all attendees — including Sun reporters — were told via multiple signs outside the venue that they would not be permitted to take any audio or video recordings of the event, even for journalistic purposes.

In addition to the strict recording rules, participants had to go through multiple security checks for identification and tickets by security personnel and event staff. Participants were also required to walk through a metal detector screening to enter the venue.

Throughout the event, six Cornell University Police Department officers spread out inside the event room and additional officers guarded the hallway. Private security stood next to Coulter throughout her talk. 

Throughout her speech, Coulter expressed discontentment about the United States’ immigration policies.

“Immigration is the number one issue in the country [and] finally, people are paying attention,” Coulter said. “I’ve been giving speeches for a long time [and] I’ve never seen an issue where the public is so much on one side and the politicians so much on the other side.” 

Coulter’s initial criticism of the immigration system centered around how she perceives America as starting to resemble other countries with its influx of immigrants.

“Never in human history has a country just decided to turn itself into another country like this,” Coulter said. “No offense to Mexico — love the food — but Japan doesn’t say, ‘Hey, let’s be Australia,’ or Australia say, ‘Let’s be Sweden.’ … We’re not doing them a favor by turning ourselves into the countries [immigrants] fled.”

Coulter particularly expressed her dissatisfaction with Afghan refugees immigrating to the U.S.

“Why does every sad sack in the world have to come to this country?” Coulter questioned. “What’s the trade-off with bringing millions of people from incredibly backward cultures who do not speak the language?”

Coulter also criticized the implications of family reunification preference tracks in immigration policies. 

“Because of our family reunification policies, that blocks out other countries where we might be able to get the ones who are smarter, taller, more athletic,” Coulter said. “The pushcart operator from Pakistan who doesn’t speak his own language — nevermind ours — he gets precedence over a surgeon from Denmark.”

Sporting a shirt that read “Keep Migrants, Deport The Racists,” Prof. Monica Cornejo, communication, an undocumented immigrant, criticized the event during the questions portion.

“I’m an assistant professor of communication here, and one of those illegals that you mentioned,” Cornejo said. “I really appreciate you coming in and talking about these issues, that way I get to know how many racist people belong to this University.”

Coulter then interjected, cutting her off for not posing a question. When Cornejo responded by saying that she did have a question, Coulter retorted: “You got your chance. We’re moving on to the next question.”

Cornejo continued to shout remarks throughout the questions portion, such as “Racist,” and put up middle fingers in response to many of Coulter’s comments.

Eventually, Coulter called for Cornejo’s removal, and she was arrested by members of the CUPD on the charge of disorderly conduct. Upon her removal, Coulter called her “a child.”

When asked about her thoughts regarding her arrest, Cornejo declined to comment.

Prof. Randy Wayne, plant science, a leader in the Heterodox Academy, an organization that co-sponsored the event, said that he considered the event to be a success.

“What she [Coulter] spoke about was reasonable, evidence-based [and] clear. You could disagree with it, but it was civil,” Wayne said.

However, Derek Block ’27 said that the University inviting Coulter to speak went beyond free speech efforts.

“I think Cornell doesn’t really understand what freedom of speech is,” Block said. “There’s a difference between allowing people to speak and actively giving people a platform to promote ideas that are based not in fact and are based on hate.”

In a post-event interview with The Sun, Kotlikoff expressed that while he disagreed with many of the claims made by Coulter, he still respects her right to freedom of speech. 

“I don’t agree with Ann Coulter’s thesis about immigration, about the value of immigration to the U.S.,” Kotlikoff said. “There’s lots that I don’t agree with, but fundamentally I believe that it’s important for Cornell to be able to support diverse views — that’s what a University does.” 

When asked if the University would allow a white nationalist or neo-Nazi to speak if invited to campus by members of the Cornell community, Kotlikoff reiterated the importance of respecting free speech on campus. 

“I would support their right to speak at Cornell — I think free speech is that important,” Kotlikoff explained. “I think there are clear areas of speech that are not supported by the First Amendment [such as] incitement of violence. … Those we would shut down.”

When asked about the outcome of the event, Wayne said, “The whole audience, I think, got educated.”