Ivy League University Set to Censor · 27 September 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

September 27, 2004

Ivy League University Set to Censor Free Speech

Ithaca, New York - Who will stand up for intellectual diversity at Cornell? Cornell University's Student Assembly will vote in the next couple days on whether to censor The Cornell American, one of the few conservative student publications on campus. Since its reemergence on-campus in March of 2004, The American has published five highly controversial and widely read issues. The articles have been cited on several local and national media and non-partisan organizations including FoxNews.com, The Leadership Institute, Students for Academic Freedom, Frontpage Magazine, and The Cornell Daily Sun.

The Student Assembly Finance Commission, which controls student funding on-campus claims that The Cornell American "deceived" them when they applied for funding. The Cornell American requested money to form a literary society which would discuss diverse points of view and create an active dialog between the audience and journalist. As a group they have done exactly what they set out to do: express an alternative political point of view on a campus.

The editors of The Cornell American issued the following statement about this proposed censorship: "We are outraged by the recent actions of the Cornell Student Assembly Finance Commission (SAFC) to de-fund The Cornell American. This shakedown is unbecoming of an Ivy League institution and we will use every option available to us, including possible legal action, to win this fight."

The Student Assembly, which controls the SAFC, is attempting to use new ex post facto regulations to retroactively take away The Cornell American's funding, a decision which will strip Cornell of one of its only conservative voices. The Student Assembly which denied a resolution supporting the Student Bill of Rights and Academic Freedom last semester, now is poised to prevent free speech. These student assembly members are threatening the basic rights of Cornell students to express their political views on campus and are threatening to hinder intellectual diversity on a campus where it already sorely lacking.

According to a 2004 study of SAFC-funded student organizations, less than one-half of one percent of the $2.3 million student activity fee is allocated to right-of-center clubs. In contrast, a 1996 investigation commissioned by then-SAFC Chairman Vincent Flanagan '96 found that over 40-percent of student funding went to organizations serving leftist organizations. The censorship movement is gaining momentum. Almost all students at Cornell support the right to have a free marketplace of ideas, we believe the University should maintain and re-affirm its commitment to its own motto: "Open Doors, Open Hearts, and Open Minds." We call upon the Dean of Students at Cornell and the President of the Student Assembly to reject this blatant attempt at censorship and to reaffirm the University's commitment to intellectual diversity by stopping the Student Assembly's imminent actions.

Ross Blankenship
President, Students for Academic Freedom at Cornell University
Phone: 607-339-8387
Email: rdb29@cornell.edu