The modern dark age: Only days after a speech by Ann Coulter on November 9, 2022 at Cornell University was disrupted by protesters, the president of Cornell University, Martha Pollack, apparently confirmed the university’s stated public intention to punish the students involved.
Pollack confirmed during a Nov. 15 assembly meeting that the students, who were warned and escorted from the event for preventing Coulter from speaking, would be referred to the Office of Student Conduct” who would then assign “punishments.”
“I will just be honest, I think this was a really stupid move,” Pollack said of the protest in an audio recording obtained by The Cornell Review. “Ann Coulter’s basically irrelevant at this point… and this is exactly what she wanted.”
If you click on the link to the audio recording and go to 18:22, you can hear the question and Pollack’s answer. It is very clear that both she and the questioner want to support free speech and wish to prevent future such disruptions from silencing speakers at Cornell. As Pollack states:
I am disgusted by the behavior of these students. … The students were warned, [the police] escorted the students out, they collected ids when they could. The students will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. They will decide what the punishments are.
At the same time, Pollack remains unsure how to handle such heckling and disruptions in the future.
I don’t have a good answer to the question of what will defer this in the future, but I will tell you quite honestly it’s something we discussed in my cabinet yesterday. It’s something I think we need to continue to discuss in committee. I think it will take community pressure. I think its gonna take a real lot of talking about why we have to have free speech.
Despite this laudable statement, the greater public must continue to question how serious Cornell will be about this issue. Will it truly punish these students for their actions? Though Cornell’s student code of conduct (pdf) clearly forbids such behavior, and allows for serious punishment (including expulsion) if found guilty, the procedures (pdf) for judging these cases and imposing sanctions are remarkably vague, despite pages of detailed instructions. In the end the decision is solely up to those in charge, and they can decide anything.
These students should be expelled, especially because they had been specifically warned not to disrupt the speech and then went ahead with a very organized effort to silence it. Past history however suggests that — once the controversy has died down — the college will let these leftist protesters off with a mere slap on the wrist.
The goal now should be to not let the controversy die down. These students behaved in an uncivilized manner, and should be punished for it. Above all, Cornell must be forced to uphold the standards it claims to believe in.
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