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Cornell University Passes Vague Resolution Condemning ‘Hate Speech’

Photo of Ian Miles Cheong

12:51 PM 09/30/2017

Cornell University’s Student Assembly has passed a resolution condemning controversial speech, following considerations to ban speech covered under the vaguely defined term.

The declaration follows an illegal squat by social justice activists in protest of an alleged racially-motivated assault against a black student. On September 20, the university announced that it would “do everything we can to rid this campus of racism” after student activists handed in a list of demands calling for sweeping changes to be made in the curriculum, among other things.

Also in September, a student allegedly chanted “build a wall” near a Latino living center, which caused an uproar on campus.

The College Fix reported on Friday that these events prompted the Student Assembly to consider a possible ban on “hate speech” on campus. According to The Cornell Daily Sun, subsequent meetings involving representatives from various student groups put pressure on the assembly to take action against hate speech. Per the publication, leaders of the Black Students United chanted “hate speech is not free speech,” and “silence is power.”

The assembly requested a definition for “hate speech” from its Codes and Judicial Committee to determine whether it “undermines campus code of conduct.” Within days, the assembly passed a resolution “condemning hate crimes and hate speech, and supporting students.”

It claims that “bias, discrimination, and hate crimes, by their nature, affect the fabric of the Cornell community” and holds that the recent events “appear to be clear violations of the Campus Code of Conduct.” The term “hate speech” remains nebulous as ever.

The assembly does not outright ban what it considers to be “hate speech,” so it is unclear what changes to the code of conduct will actually be made or how it will come to impact the freedom of expression and free speech at Cornell.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.

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