A little over seven years ago, the University of Chicago issued a report defending free speech on campus. Since then, over eighty institutions or faculty bodies have adopted the report and committed themselves to promote free expression. We write this letter to encourage Cornell to do the same.
In an October Letter to the Editor, the E-Board of the Cornell Republicans lied to readers of The Sun. They boldly asserted that they “are an organization that relishes the opportunity to engage in good-faith debate,” yet when the national conversation turned to police brutality and the daily endangerment of black lives by law enforcement, they stayed notably silent. Their social media makes absolutely no mention of the murder of George Floyd nor any protests. Neither does their website. They have issued no public statement on the vitally important discourse on police brutality reverberating throughout our country.
Picture this — a panoramic shot of a quad glimmering under the early fall-semester sun. You could be at any college campus in America or, more likely, suspended in a place that doesn’t actually exist except as an amalgamation of the essence of college campuses nationwide. You see people: walking, frisbeeing, speaking different languages, laughing, lounging and lugging kegs. You continue to snake through the bubbling crowd and you start to get bombarded. You hear calls from table-ers, flyers are pushed into your abdomen, you are entangled in a flock of demonstrators; you’ve been caught in the ever-present and unignorable politics that has long been a token of collegiate life.
“I don’t get to have a bad day,” said Leslie Danks Burke, founder and president of the Trailblazers PAC and a former state senate candidate. Burke, along with three other high-powered women, delivered a Lewis Auditorium panel discussion on Monday tackling how women’s issues are gaining momentum in the 2020 election.
In 1932, the University of Chicago faced a watershed moment in its university policy: what to do about a Communist. When a UChicago student organization invited William Z. Foster, the Communist Party’s presidential candidate, to lecture on the prestigious campus, the school faced immense backlash. Between concerned citizens and angry politicians, the public condemned Foster’s visit, dismissing his views as “treasonous hate rhetoric.” Even then-governor of Illinois, Louis Lincoln Emmerson, expressed his disapproval of the university for permitting the lecture to continue. In response to the criticism, UChicago President Robert M. Hutchins released a public statement that defined a precedent for the school: “Our students should have the freedom to discuss any problem that presents itself … the cure for ideas we oppose lies through open discussion rather than through inhibition.”
From their genesis, colleges and universities were designed to serve as hubs of knowledge, spaces to expand one’s perspective and mindset. Since then, colleges have evolved in a multitude of ways — there are now thousands of diverse, unique schools with their own distinct mission statements and practices.
Vice President of Finance of the Cornell Political Union Brendan Dodd ’21 stepped down from his post on Wednesday afternoon. Dodd said he chose to resign after CPU responded to conservative speaker Jannique Stewart’s allegation of “VIEWPOINT DISCRIMINATION” with a “disingenuous” and “deliberately misleading” statement.
This week, the Cornell Political Union was accused of discriminating against Jannique Stewart, a conservative, Christian speaker, because of her religious beliefs. As CPU’s Vice President of Finance, I was present for all full executive board discussions related to the retraction of Stewart’s invitation, and I feel that it is my obligation to shed some light on the incident as neither Stewart nor the CPU executive board has been fully honest and transparent. Stewart was invited to speak to CPU on the topic of abortion. However, after researching her background and discovering her traditional Christian views on sexuality and marriage — namely, her belief that marriage is between a man and a woman — the executive board decided to cancel Stewart’s speech and attempt to find a less controversial speaker to discuss the topic. Contrary to her characterizations in a Facebook post, Stewart’s beliefs were not likened to supporting slavery or denying the Holocaust.
As Democrats celebrate taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in a decade, they soon will confront a lesser understood political reality: Campaigning is much easier than governing. Having wrongly convinced some Americans that implementing a single payer healthcare system that has worked nowhere in the world and rolling back tax cuts that have sparked an economic renaissance will benefit them, they are now on the hook to work within a divided federal government to forge consensus and deliver results — or face almost certain political decimation by President Trump in 2020. There was no “blue wave” last evening. There was, instead, a message to the Trump administration that there remain many Americans still hurting in this nation even though every economic metric is pointing upward, including gross domestic product, employment, job creation and finally positive news in the third quarter this year that wages are inching upwards. The damage done to America’s poor and middle class by Obama administration policies cannot be underestimated.