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  1. I prize academic freedom and freedom of speech (and am pleased to read Martha Pollack does too—Chronicle, April 17). However, I have concerns about the proposed resolution and statement.

    The statement is unfocussed. For instance it includes “….Cornell will refrain from monitoring student organizations…” The scope here is surely much broader than intended. As written, it would appear to disallow The Campus Activities Office to register student organizations and enforce the code of conduct (which can be found on their web page).

    The statement goes on to say that “[Cornell] will actively prevent any non-University or external organizations from engaging in the surveillance of such groups.” Who at Cornell should do this? How? Isn’t this inimical to free speech?

    Page 2: “Cornell should make explicit policies that prohibit and penalize the unauthorized recording or taping of classes.” As was raised at the April 12 Senate meeting, how this relates to academic freedom and freedom of speech is not clear.

    Page 3: “‘Watchlists’ that target and seek to harass…” — there is a tricky line to draw here between stopping objective harassment and shutting down someone else’s freedom of speech when they advance views that someone else finds disquieting.

    The statement mandates a process of revision of “Cornell’s current guidelines and policies to ensure broad protection of academic freedom.” What is deficient about the present guidelines and policies (“Exhibit A”), apart from perhaps their visibility? What are the “protections and safeguards currently lacking in Cornell policy” (page 3)? The authors cite concerns about the current political climate. But there were threats to free speech on US university campuses before the most recent presidential election (no-platforming and disinviting controversies, for example). Our existing guidelines are impressive in that they set out principles that apply broadly.

    Timothy Riley

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