Local News: February 22, 2024

Cornell’s “interim expressive activity policy” has mostly been criticized in online comments and town hall meetings of students, faculty, and staff. Risa Lieberwitz is a professor in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a member of the faculty senate and president of campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors. 

Here is some of what she said in a recent interview with WRFI. This has been lightly edited for clarity.

"The interim policy is certainly in all likelihood creating a chilling effect. There's a sense of fear on campus and speaking out. And I think that that sense of fear and speaking out, really comes from the administration's response since October 7, to speech that is clearly within the scope of academic freedom and free expression on campus. But it's also of course, controversial, because we're in a time where there's a lot of debate and disagreement, and very heated disputes that occur. And so part of being able to exercise academic freedom and freedom of expression on campus, and off campus is the ability to say things that make other people unhappy, and to say things that other people may find offensive. And that is something that should apply across the board, regardless of where one stands on particular issues.

But the statements that have come out from the administration, and in particular President Pollack have been so weighted in a way that provides a message of, of not giving full support to academic freedom and freedom of expression, around issues dealing with pro Palestinian rights around issues concerning critiques of Zionism or critiques of Israel, that that message, whether it's implicit or explicit, is getting through. And given the nature of politics in the United States right now. And the congressional attempts to interfere with free expression on campus. There is, I think, a palpable sense of a chill on campus around speech and around demonstrations. Now, those are still taking place. But there is concern by students and faculty and staff of being targeted for some sort of retaliation.”

To hear more about Cornell’s interim policy and freedom of expression on campus tune in to WRFI over the next few weeks.

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