Local News: February 14, 2024

- Ithaca College to test sirens on Thursday -

Residents near Ithaca College may hear sirens and loudspeaker announcements on Thursday. The College will be testing its Outdoor Warning System at noon, on February 15. There’s no need to take any action. Students, faculty, and staff may get voice, text, or email messages around the same time.

- Cornell’s Year of Freedom of Expression -

Cornell’s academic theme for the 2023-24 school year is freedom of expression. The outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas happened shortly after the school year began. Students’ reactions to the war have challenged the administration’s enforcement of university policies and respect for students’ freedom of expression.

One student is under arrest on federal charges for making specific, violent anti-semitic threats online. Another, Maria Valdez, has been suspended for a social media post that included the statement, “All Zionists must die.”

Zach Greenberg, an attorney with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression says the two are not the same.

"Cornell’s a university that promises students robust free speech rights including the right to offend others. And Maria’s speech though it may be offensive does not fall into any category of unprotected speech allowing Cornell to punish her," he said.

Last week, Cornell president Martha Pollack spoke at a public luncheon. Her speech included comments about the University’s position on expression of offensive speech or ideas.

"As a university we believe it’s out responsibility to ensure that our students are exposed to even ideas that challenge them, even to ideas they find offensive or wrong. Because being exposed to ideas that one disagrees with is a core part of a university education. It’s key to learning how to evaluate information and develop considered beliefs. It’s key to developing the ability to engage respectfully and productively in civil discourse. And it’s key to learning hot to advocate for one’s own deeply held values," she said.

In January, Cornell published an “Interim Expressive Activity Policy” that include restrictions on when and how students may protest. To hear more about Cornell’s Year of Freedom of Expression tune in to WRFI Thursday at 6 PM.

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