SAMILOW | Free and Open Discourse is an Indispensable Feature of Good Education

In the wake of the sustained protests and civil unrest over the summer, the dormant debate regarding “hate speech” has reemerged on Cornell’s campus. Over the summer, students called for the dismissal of Prof. William A. Jacobson, Law,  for an article he wrote critiquing the Black Lives Matter movement as well as for the termination of Prof. David Collum, Chemistry, for a series of offensive comments and jokes he made on his personal Twitter account. While the University has tepidly defended the rights of its faculty to express their private views, it is abundantly clear that many students and faculty, and indeed the editorial board of this newspaper, believe that the University should play some role in regulating “hate speech.”

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has spent time at Cornell or any other university. Last year, a survey of college students conducted by the Knight Foundation revealed that a majority of college students believe that it is sometimes acceptable to “shout down” speakers to prevent them from talking and over forty percent do not believe the First Amendment should cover “hate speech.”

Their reasoning is simple — the emotional wellbeing of students and their right to feel comfortable is more important than the right to free speech. They see it as decidedly inhumane to value a professor’s right to publish provocative articles over the security and comfort of those offended by that speech.

WILK | Bull and Bookclubs: The Higher Ed Response to Bigotry

A four-hundred-year history of American racial brutality has streets across the country demanding change. And yet unresponsiveness is still being wrapped up aesthetically as a concession. Instead of taking action, various establishments rely on sundry statements from the atonement assembly line to quiet rebellion and save face. Police murders and anti-Blackness are being met with a golden age of apology, in which Cornell is disappointingly and unsurprisingly participatory. Racism, and the magnitude of its gruesomeness, is uncapturable.

GUEST ROOM | A response to Cornell’s statement on Prof. David Collum ’77

Dear President Martha E. Pollack, Vice Provost Michael Kotlikoff, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Mary Opperman, Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi and Chief David Honan,

On June 4th, Buffalo police brutalized an elderly man in an upheaval of police abuse that has spanned this country. Cornell Prof. David Collum ’77, Chemistry, publicly defended that violence. In your statement the next day, you claimed that “Professor Collum has a right to express his views in his private life.” This so-called “right” — to express your views and remain a professor at an elite institution — is not borne from the Constitution, nor any federal or state law: The University extends it, and can just as easily take it away. We, the undersigned, urge you to consider the consequences of extending this right to David Collum. You wrote that “Cornell is founded on a vision of a university, and by extension, a world for “any person.” Do you believe that “any person” would feel safe working for or taking a class from Prof. Collum?