The Wit and Wisdom of Cornellians

The right of Big Red Bears to babble shall not be infringed

The Wit and Wisdom of Cornellians

The right of Big Red Bears to babble shall not be infringed

ACTA’s Gold Standard for Racism and Hate Speech

by Saul Thomas

Cornellians Beware! You have nothing to lose but your brains! As if the presence of the hateful Cornell Free Speech Alliance is not enough, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) will be at Cornell this week to spread its racist propaganda promoting hate speech. The Campus Freedom Initiative goes by the name of Help build a culture of free expression at Cornell!. ACTA claims that Free expression is the necessary precondition for the unfettered search for truth on the college campus.

The Search for Truth results in Racism, Homophobia, Transphobia, and Ableism. Universities must choose a telos of truth or social justice.

Keep Cornell a post-truth university where social justice triumphs!

Remember our mission!

We can talk about the role of mindset in building an inclusive culture, and perhaps find some shared values that are not about fact or fiction, true or false, but about recognizing the role we can each play in ensuring an equitable future – for ourselves, our colleagues, and our students.

Free expression leads to misinformation and disinformation!

Free expression will lead to the kind of white supremacist education that existed from the founding of Cornell to 2020, when we fought so hard to eliminate hurtful skepticism and questioning. The Campus Freedom Initiative will lead to the bombardment, by coherent and reasoned arguments, of Cornellians from marginalized communities who are most at risk. Moreover, the Campus Freedom Initiative may force Cornellians to make coherent and reasoned arguments based on truth claims!

To quote Thomas Sowell, One of the…signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people’s motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans— anything except reason.

We support the venting of emotions and the questioning of the others’ motives. These freedoms will be lost with the Campus Freedom Initiative!

I am ready for a cry-in. Just reading the words of the Campus Freedom Initiative offends me. I am going to stop writing, skip class, and find a safe space. With a trigger warning, I will let the danger of ACTA’s Campus Freedom Initiative speak for itself:

Pro se loquitur!

Commit to a Culture of Free Expression

  • Adopt the Chicago Principles on Freedom of Expression or a similarly strong statement.
  • Establish clear expectations regarding free expression in student, faculty, and staff handbooks and codes of conduct.
  • Include a free expression unit in new-student orientations.
  • Protect the diversity of political viewpoints by adopting an institutional neutrality policy such as the Kalven Committee Report.

Foster Civil Discourse

  • Sponsor campus debates that model civil discourse.
  • Encourage establishment of student groups promoting free expression.
  • Protect the rights of invited speakers and listeners to engage with controversial ideas.
  • Establish and enforce consequences that deter disruption of sponsored speakers, events, and classes.

Cultivate Intellectual Diversity

  • Encourage presidents, provosts, and deans to model respect for a broad range of viewpoints.
  • Guarantee that viewpoint diversity is reflected in student life policies and practices.
  • Support academic centers dedicated to free inquiry and intellectual diversity.
  • Make intellectual diversity a stated goal in faculty hiring, evaluation, and promotion.

Break Down Barriers to Free Expression

  • Eliminate speech and IT policies that have a chilling effect on free expression.
  • Ensure that Title IX and other disciplinary procedures do not infringe on free expression.
  • Disband bias response teams.
  • Review student government policies to ensure viewpoint neutrality in student group recognition and funding.

Advance Leadership Accountability

  • Incorporate explicit policies of free expression in governance bylaws and other key institutional documents.
  • Include a commitment to free expression as a criterion for presidential searches and evaluations.
  • Require free expression and viewpoint diversity training for administrative staff.
  • Conduct regular evaluations of the state of free expression and intellectual diversity on campus.


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