When notable articles come to our attention weeks after they were published, we will sometimes precede them with an editor’s note dated when written, like this one, so as to get them onto our homepage. The below column is notable because it was co-signed by eight leaders and members of a liberal student group at Cornell, in an era when many left-leaning students have turned against free speech.
August 31, 2021
GUEST ROOM | Cornell Should Adopt the Chicago Principles
By Sara Stober ’22, Chair of the Liberal Caucus of the Cornell Political Union
Cornell Daily Sun
Excerpt: A little over seven years ago, the University of Chicago issued a report defending free speech on campus. Since then, over eighty institutions or faculty bodies have adopted the report and committed themselves to promote free expression. We write this letter to encourage Cornell to do the same.
Free speech and academic freedom are essential to the kind of liberal education Cornell seeks to promote. Liberal education is meant to foster free thinkers who systematically reason through important issues. As such, universities should encourage their students to think freely and engage with different perspectives. As notable and ideologically opposite academics Cornel West and Robert George wrote, “All of us should be willing—even eager—to engage with anyone who is prepared to do business in the currency of truth-seeking discourse by offering reasons, marshaling evidence, and making arguments.” This includes those that think differently from the progressive orthodoxy.
Such discourse is difficult, however, when many Cornellians are scared to challenge the progressive status quo and speak in opposition to those pushing ideological conformity. Cornell witnessed the basis of this fear firsthand last year.