Cornell University Pledges To Recommit Itself To Free Speech After Students Shouted Conservative Pundit Off Stage

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Cornell University pledged Friday to make freedom of expression a theme of the 2023-2024 academic year, months after students shouted a conservative pundit out of the room, according to a recent announcement.

Ann Coulter, a conservative personality, cut her speech at Cornell short in November 2022 after students repeatedly interrupted the event by shouting, playing circus music and making fart noises, student newspaper the Cornell Review reported. Cornell will host a variety of “scholarly and creative events and activities” to challenge the faculty, staff and student body to “engage” with the concepts of “free expression and academic freedom” throughout the current academic year, the announcement reads. (RELATED: Federal Judges Won’t Hire Clerks From Stanford Law After Students Shouted Down Federal Judge)

“It is critical to our mission as a university to think deeply about freedom of expression and the challenges that result from assaults on it, which today come from both ends of the political spectrum,” Pollack said in the announcement. “Learning from difference, learning to engage with difference and learning to communicate across difference are key parts of a Cornell education. Free expression and academic freedom are the bedrock not just of the university, but of democracy.”

Activities will include reading groups, debates and exhibitions focused on free expression, according to the announcement. The university will launch a website outlining the different events as well as its goals before the start of the Fall 2023 semester.

Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack will officially announce the plan April 17. The activities and events will aim to improve students’ skills, including “active listening, leading controversial discussions, leading effective advocacy and managing responses to controversial interactions.”

Coulter spoke for a total of seven minutes during the 30-minute event in November, according to the Cornell Review. She mockingly said she was “so proud of [her] alma mater,” as she left the room.

Pollack promised during a November assembly meeting that the students involved in the protest would be “referred to the Office of Student Conduct” for punishments and that the protest was a “really stupid move,” the Cornell Review reported.

Cornell officials recently rejected a student proposal for instructors to put “trigger warnings” on court syllabi to warn students of any “traumatic content” that could be discussed. The officials argued the resolution violates the university’s commitment to academic freedom and free inquiry.

Cornell University did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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