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    Cornell ranks low in campus free speech survey, abysmal on student free expression

    Cornell ranks low in campus free speech survey, abysmal on student free expression

    Cornell ranked 40th out of 55 schools surveyed. Cornell has a problem. The administration not only doesn’t acknowledge the problem, it is a major part of the problem.
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    It’s not like I told you so, but I told you so.

    For years I have been documenting the increasingly oppressive atmosphere for free speech at Cornell University, including shout-downs and disruptions of conservative and/or pro-Israel speakers and events. That atmosphere now is in overdrive with a push from the top-down of the admninistration to turn the campus into an exercise is activism, Cornell University takes a major step towards compulsory racial activism for faculty, students, and staff.

    I will have a lot more on this in the coming weeks, including how a set of Demands by some faculty, staff, and students, including unlawful race-based hiring and promotion, is driving the agenda as the university converts itself into a massive struggle session guided by Ibram Kendi’s ‘How To Be An Antiracist’:

    “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

    The attempt to ‘cancel‘ me is a symptom of the demand for ideological orthodoxy on campus. Not only was I denounced by the law school Dean for criticizing Black Lives Matter, a Chemistry Professor was denounced by the President of the University and other senior officials for supporting police conduct at a BLM protest in Buffalo. Yet there has been no denunciation of the professors who signed the Demands which, if implemented, not only would violate the law but would be contrary to Cornell non-discrimination policy. This sets a tone on campus, and students (and unprotected staff and faculty) get the message loud and clear.

    My observations that students are scared into silence, and feel the repression, is confirmed by a survey just released which ranks Cornell 40th out of 55 campuses surveyed.

    A national campus survey just released by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (the “FIRE”), College Pulse, and Real Clear Education, conducted largest ever free speech survey of college students and rankings of campuses. Among the many findings:


    Fully 60% of students reported feeling that they could not express an opinion because of how students, a professor, or their administration would respond. This number is highest among “strong Republicans” (73%) and lowest among “strong Democrats” (52%). Black students are most likely to report an instance where they censored themselves (63%).

    Just 15% of students reported feeling very comfortable publicly disagreeing with a professor about a controversial topic. Only 11% of female students reported this, compared to 19% of male students.

    Opposing viewpoints

    Students reported an alarming willingness to shut down certain speakers: 87% of students reported that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders should be allowed to share his views on campus, but only 69% said the same for President Donald Trump and 78% for former Vice President Joe Biden. Students identifying as Republican or Independent were more tolerant of speakers than Democratic students: 71% of strong Republicans support Biden coming to campus, compared to 49% of strong Democrats reporting the same for Trump.

    • Female students reported less tolerance for speakers than male students.
    • LGBT students reported less tolerance for speakers than straight students.
    • Black students reported less tolerance than Hispanic, Asian, or white students.

    The survey finds that intolerance is the norm, particularly among liberal students at elite universities:

    The difference in support for other forms of protest are even more varied:

    • More than 60% of extreme liberals said it’s “always” or “sometimes” acceptable to shout down a speaker; compared to 15% for extreme conservatives.
    • 37% of Ivy League students say that shouting down a speaker is “always” or “sometimes” acceptable, compared to 26% of students not enrolled at Ivy League colleges. When it comes to removing flyers, the figures are 37% to 28%.
    • Almost 1 in 5 Ivy League students find it “always” or “sometimes” acceptable to block other students from entering a campus event, compared to roughly 1 in 10 of non-Ivy students.​

    More than 40% of college students identified race as a topic that is difficult to have an open and honest conversation about on campus, a figure that rises to 66% for black students. Similarly, 45% of students reported that they do not feel they could have an open and honest discussion about abortion on their campus. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is particularly difficult to discuss at elite colleges in the Ivy League.

    The  dedicated website (and full report) rank 55 campuses. The top (most free) and bottom (least free) campuses were:

    The top five colleges for free speech: 

    1. The University of Chicago (Green)
    2. Kansas State University (Green)
    3. Texas A&M University (Green)
    4. University of California, Los Angeles (Green)
    5. Arizona State University (Red)

    The worst colleges for free speech: 

    1. Syracuse University (Yellow)
    2. Dartmouth College (Yellow)
    3. Louisiana State University (Red)
    4. University of Texas (Red)
    5. DePauw University (Red)

    You can see the full rankings here.

    Cornell was ranked 40th out of the 55 schools surveyed. Here is the Cornell write up:


    • 29% of students say it is never acceptable to shoutdown a speaker on campus.
    • 48% of students are confident that the administration will defend the speaker’s rights in a free speech controversy.
    • 81% of students say it is never acceptable to use violent protest to stop a speech on campus.
    • Students are most uncomfortable expressing an unpopular opinion on a social media account tied to one’s name.
    • Affirmative action is the topic most frequently identified by students as difficult to have an open and honest conversation about on campus.

    Here is the breakdown. Note the very low score for self-expression I have highlighted. Self-expression is defined in the survey as:

    “Self-Expression measures the proportion of students who do not report feeling unable to share their perspective at their college. This score is out of 100 points.”

    Cornell’s self-expression score is 35.3, meaning that 64.7 percent of students do not feel free to share their perspective.

    Here are some of the student Cornell comments reported in the report:

    “I have been shouted down by other students for supporting the candidacy of Mike Bloomberg”
    – Class of 2020

    “Governor Scott Walker came to speak on campus. We were assigned extra credit if we attended. In our following class, our “Socialist” teacher began the class by aruptly bashing Walker for everything from his foreign policy all the way down to his beliefs (Political, Social, ect). The professor went on to give unproven statements and false facts to the class as to why Walker is incorrect. The entire class sided with her, and the privileged white students concededly showed their socialistic proudness as they sport Louis Vuitton, Burberry and other luxury items that contradict the ideals of a true socialist country. A simple example of colleges brainwashing. Not to mention that they brought two guest speakers to our class who reffered to eachother as “comrade” and wanted to spread the belief of communism! My grandparents would be rolling in their graves if they heard this. Thanks Cornell!”
    – Class of 2021

    “Even though I am more left-leaning than right leaning, I have found that most of my peers seem to be very extreme in their liberal mindsets and do not tolerate any amount of political discussion that does not confirm the viewpoint they already hold. I am very willing to discuss and consider opinions of conservatives as I believe that non-judgmental conversation is the only way to truly reach a compromise. However, every time I attempt to hold a conversation that asks others to consider why people do not agree with them and that there could be merit to both sides of the spectrum, I get accused of supporting racism, sexism, etc., which could not be further from the truth.”
    – Class of 2022

    “It happens daily. When talking to other students it is simply assumed that the student is liberal. During my first week of freshman year, I was asked, unprompted, what my opinions were on the wage gap. I stated that I believed the evidence pointed more so to differences in wage based on measures that had nothing to do with discrimination. I was immediately yelled at, called a misogynist, and shunned by a group of 15 people on my dorm floor, being known as “sexist (my name)” for the rest of the year.”
    – Class of 2021

    “Many of my friends are fairly anti-capitalist and anti-government. They compare the United States to China in terms of administration. I find this wrong and disrespectful and minimizes the legitimate struggles and actual genocide being performed in China. I also believe that conservatives often have a valid viewpoint even if I don’t necessarily agree with it and many of my friends disagree. It is hard to feel that my viewpoints are different from the radical left that many people I know and on campus express”
    – Class of 2020

    “I was enrolled in a social inequality class and disagreed with some of the students in the class about income inequality and wealth disparity. Some students in the class were very verbally hostile which made me feel uncomfortable opening up my views for discussion in class.”
    – Class of 2020

    “i largely keep to myself regarding some political views i have when i would rather be more active in some way regarding them because i feel that the campus’ climate is too hostile towards those in the perceived political minority (conservatives)”
    – Class of 2022

    These comments ring true, and are similar to what students tell me privately.

    Cornell has a problem. The administration not only doesn’t acknowledge the problem, it is a major part of the problem.


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    artichoke | October 6, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    More than 40% of college students identified race as a topic that is difficult to have an open and honest conversation about on campus, a figure that rises to 66% for black students.

    The logical reaction to this finding, and “especially” (to use the current buzzword) the even greater discomfort of black students, is to create opportunities to avoid these discussions.

    Not to surrender to communist “BLM” and infuse these discussions everywhere. BLM’s “demands” are a good list of things not to do.

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