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CJC: Free Speech/Hate Speech Deliberations

The Codes and Judicial Committee is a standing of the University Assembly. It has these members and is charged (UA Bylaws 4.1) with overseeing the Campus Code of Conduct.

Below are its AY 2017-18 deliberations on the Free Speech/Hate Speech Issue.


September 6

No minutes provided.


September 13

Nothing in the minutes regarding free/hate speech issues.


September 20

The following is from  the minutes:

As there were not enough voting members present to reach a quorum, the committee moved into Committee of the Whole and proceeded to discuss the proposed amendments to the Campus Code of Conduct as well as potential revisions of the Campus Code of Conduct regarding “Hate Speech.”


September 27

Nothing in the minutes regarding free/hate speech issues.


October 4

The following is from the minutes:

  1. M. Battaglia provided an overview of the actions taken thus far. They included a review of the prior decisions of the Hearing and Review Boards in the Office of the Judicial Administrator to examine how “harassment” as an offense had been applied in the past in this area, an examination of the various policies/codes from other universities, consultation with student groups, etc.
  2. M. Battaglia also discussed the composition of a working group and their plan to examine this topic in more depth. C. Hodges had been asked and agreed to serve as Chair of the working group and N. Stetson had also agreed to serve.
  3. R. Lieberwitz raised a point about faculty involvement with the Working Group.
  4. General discussion among Members present followed until the time allotted was exhausted.

October 18

The following is from the minutes:

  1. The Codes and Judicial Committee discussed the creation of an Ad-hoc subcommittee of the Codes and Judicial Committee that will be charged with examining Hate Speech in the Campus Code of Conduct. The Codes and Judicial Committee also discussed the topic of the composition and leadership of the Ad-hoc sub-committee.

October 25

The following is from the minutes:

  1. Battaglia introduced C. Hodges, a Student Representative appointed by the Student Assembly to the Codes and Judicial Committee.
  2. Hodges introduced himself and asked it the Codes and Judicial Committee had any questions for him.
  3. Bensel asked C. Hodges – if he were to be the Chair of the Hate Speech Working Group of Codes and Judcial Committee, what are the most pressing problems that he would anticipate.
  4. Hodges said that it would be most pressing to try to put together a robust solution that will handle all parts of the issue. He also said that it will be pressing to create a policy that has adequate language, is stable in its use, and is enforceable.
  5. Hodges, at the request of M. Battaglia, spoke briefly about his background, which included his previous membership to the Codes and Judicial Committee.
  6. Stetson asked for C. Hodge’s opinion on the structure of the Hate Speech Working Group.
  7. Hodges said that a good structure would have four Codes and Judicial Committee core members, four more members (one seat filled by each constituent Assembly), and unlimited community membership.
  8. Battaglia presented a slideshow of four potential options for the structure of the Ad-hoc subcommittee, a potential timeline, and a draft of the Formal Charge of the Hate Speech Working Group.
  9. Bensel asked about who can vote on the Hate Speech Working Group.
  10. Battaglia said that goal was to not have to vote, but, in the case that there is a need for a vote, the members and appointments would vote.
  11. Peralta-Ochoa (Community Member) asked if using Option 2 of the Hate Speech Working Group Planning presentation meant that there will be no input from the community.
  12. Battaglia said that there are ways for the community to be able to provide feedback and input.
  13. Bensel praised M. Battaglia for his work in creating the Hate Speech Working Group Planning presentation.
  14. Stetson mentioned that the language of the Charge from the University Assembly to the Codes and Judicial Committee should have been incorporated and reflected in the Charge to the Hate Speech Working Group.
  15. Battaglia said that the charge was ambiguous and that he explained to the University Assembly that the Codes and Judicial Committee is trying to work on a timeline as fast as possible.
  16. Stetson asked if the Charge to the Codes and Judicial Committee from the University Assembly was in writing.
  17. Battaglia said that the Charge was not in writing.
  18. Horvath said that a timeline and language clarifying voter membership should be added to the Charge of the Hate Speech Working Group.
  19. Battaglia explained the draft of the timeline to provide a possible roadmap of events.
  20. Malone asked what is being done to promote attendance and participation at the Community Forum on Friday.
  21. Battaglia said that social media would be used to promote the event, flyers would be sent out, and that he has talked to different groups at the University.
  22. Bensel asked what the relationship is between the timeline and the Hate Speech Working Group. 1
  23. Battaglia said that the timeline serves as an idea of how to guide the Hate Speech Working Group.
  24. Jaisinghani suggested that Facebook and social media should be used to publicize the forum.
  25. Battaglia said that there will be posts to social media very soon. 18. N. Stetson asked if it was considered whether or not to invite the Cornell Daily Sun. He recommended inviting the Cornell Daily Sun, but he also said that there must be preparation for the implications.
  26. Battaglia affirmed that there were plans to invite the Cornell Daily Sun because the goal is to be open and transparent.
  27. Lieberwitz said that she is concerned with having only one forum. She said that it seems as if it was something done quickly, and that there should be at least two.
  28. Battaglia said that two forums will be considered.
  29. Lieberwitz said that there needs to be planning on how to structure the forum.
  30. Battaglia explained a few possible structures for the forum.
  31. Horvath said that she is concerned with the structure of the forum. She said that there needs to be expectations and ground rules. She said that [the planner(s)] should seek help in event management. She said that she is concerned that the timeline gets close to finals, which might be worrisome for students, faculty, and staff.
  32. Bensel asked, if the Codes and Judicial Committee were to adopt option 3A for the structure of the Hate Speech Working Group, could the Assemblies select representatives soon enough?
  33. Battaglia said that it is not likely that they will all be able to select representatives in enough time to start next week.
  34. Bensel said that people at the forum would be curious about the members of the Hate Speech Working Group.
  35. Horvath-Point of Information- Do the constituent Assemblies need to elect members or just make an executive decision, because the process might take longer?
  36. Battaglia said that the process for choosing the delegated members would be left up to each Assembly.
  37. Peralta-Ochoa said that, since the issues at hand are of grave importance to the community, there would be no issue with people attending the Friday forum, or people participating in the long run. He said that [in comparison] the campus climate is more detrimental from a student perspective, than attending a meeting or forum.
  38. Battaglia said that he would like to create a situation where students wouldn’t have to choose between academics and attending the forum and meetings.
  39. Stetson said that the forum should be advertised and move forward with the forum on Friday.
  40. Lieberwitz mentioned possibly using the time devoted to next week’s meeting to host another forum.
  41. Price asked how people will be able to contribute their comments.
  42. Peralta-Ochoa asked if there was any way that responses and comments made can be read by an outside entity.
  43. Stetson said that one possible solution is to have responses submitted anonymously, but people can also email representatives directly.
  44. Lieberwitz said that the hybrid option 3A is the best structure for the Hate Speech Working Group because it allows good representation. She said that, however, it is not workable, and that there needs to be a voting membership and clear voting structure.
  45. Kaufman said that smaller is better, but this issue needs adequate representation. He said that he thinks the best structure would be four Codes and Judicial Committee members and a representative from each Assembly.
  46. Battaglia said that all options presented are good.
  47. Stetson said that a big group is ideal.
  48. Stetson-Point of Order-Can there be a mail vote?
  49. Battaglia said yes.
  50. Battaglia asked if there were any objections to using the November 1 meeting as public forum.
  51. Stetson offered the idea of using the week after next to be a response to the forum.
  52. The Codes and Judicial Committee voted on adopting the Charge and timeline of the Hate Speech Working Group.  By a vote of 4-0-0, the Charge and the timeline were adopted.

October 27    Forum on the Proposed Hate Speech Working Group

Sun Article
Slides
Proposed Timeline


November 1

The following is from the minutes:

  1. Battaglia said that, in terms of the composition of the Hate Speech Working Group, there are only Risa Lieberwitz, Conor Hodges, and Nate Stetson. He said that there has been interest in approving Conor Hodges as the Chair.
  2. Battaglia asked for any thoughts on Conor Hodges as being the Chair of the Hate Speech Working Group.
  3. Zoner moved to confirm Conor Hodges as the Chair of the Hate Speech Working Group. R. Bensel seconded the motion. By a vote of 6-0-1, the motion was adopted. Conor Hodges was confirmed as the Chair of the Hate Speech Working Group.
  4. Battaglia said that there will be an info list-serv for the Hate Speech Working Group.
  5. Battaglia discussed the Community Forum held on Friday, October 27, and how many community members felt as if the Hate Speech Working Group is not reflective and inclusive.
  6. Battaglia said that he is glad that Conor Hodges was confirmed as the Chair of the Hate Speech Working Group. He also said that the Codes and Judicial Committee would be happy to provide any necessary support that that Hate Speech Working Group may need.
  7. Battaglia said that the timeline was whimsical and that the Codes and Judicial Committee needed to have more flexibility. He said that he will speak with the University Assembly Executive Committee to ask for an amendment to the Charge that will give the Codes and Judicial Committee more time.
  8. Battaglia said that Tuesday, November 22, and Wednesday, November 23 are possible dates for the next forum.
  9. Kaufman encouraged that voting and nonvoting members of the Codes and Judicial Committee consider the timeline, assess the Charge, and take part in the entire process.
  10. Bensel said that he didn’t think there were more than 40 people at the Community Forum, and no more than four faculty members present; he said that it was not a great turnout. He said that there were a lot of complaints and criticisms about the forum being short noticed and not having the employee seat of the Hate Speech Working Group filled. He said that one of the most common claims of those that were critical, was that they were hurt, and that they wanted something to be done. He said that he asked for actual incidents that are not covered by the Campus Code of Conduct to see how they [people at the forum] envision the relationship between the Campus Code of Conduct and hate speech; he said that the only cases that came up were 1) the incident in Collegetown; and 2) the incident at the Latino Living Center. viii. R. Bensel asked M. Horvath and K. Zoner: 1) what actually happened [in regard to those incidents]? and 2) Does the Campus Code of Conduct only apply to individuals, instead of groups, and would those incidents be covered under the Campus Code of Conduct?
  11. Horvath said that the Campus Code of Conduct covers registered organizations, not Greek organizations. She said that she was not a part of the investigation, so she does not know of all the details.
  12. Zoner said she is not prepared to talk about the case and that she does not know to details. She said that, if it were an individual, one would have to identify the individual responsible, which is a real issue because it is difficult to do so.
  13. Horvath said that one things with the Campus Code of Conduct cases is that, even though the University is a private institution, there is a very deep commitment to First Amendment right. She said that, if we as a community wanted to create speech codes, because we are a private institution and we can do so, then we need to get rid of about 20 pages of the Campus Code of Conduct. She said that, when talking about what is not covered by the First Amendment, it is a very hard standard to meet because one has to show severity or pervasiveness or speech plus action.
  14. Horvath said the way the Campus Code of Conduct is setup, it is a system of hoops that determine the action taken a case-by-case basis.
  15. Bensel said that [the Codes and Judicial Committee] has to be careful on how distinctions will be built into the Campus Code of Conduct.
  16. Zoner said that, years ago, there was a move to have accountability move beyond the borders of the campus, being that one is a Cornell citizen wherever he or she is, but the idea was not well received, so there is now an opportunity to discuss if there is an appetite for the idea in this current time.
  17. Bensel said that the tone of the people at the Community Forum was to punish, not to rehabilitate.
  18. Battaglia read the Campus Code of Conduct’s provision on Harassment [which can be found in the slides in the meeting packet].
  19. Horvath said that there is another provision that directly follows the first.
  20. Lieberwitz said that it is important to look at the issues of jurisdiction. She said that [the Codes and Judicial Committee] must think of addressing those issues with people feeling hurt, but there is also the point of regarding a hostile environment. She said that the Hate Speech Working Group will be looking carefully at these issues, and that it can be seen through the community’s definition of the issues at hand.
  21. Horvath said that the Campus Code of Conduct does not explicitly talk about a hostile environment. xvii.
  22. Stetson said that the strength of the deliberative body is in the Codes and Judicial Committee, and that if the Codes and Judicial Committee continues the discussion, then 1) [the Codes and Judicial Committee] risks getting dragged by losing time for other issues; and 2) [the Codes and Judicial Committee] risks undermining the Hate Speech Working Group. He requested that the Codes and Judicial Committee keep in mind that the Hate Speech Working Group will be working on the issue. He also mentioned that future Community Forums should be on adjacent days and occur at different times.
  23. Park asked if the Codes and Judicial Committee will have to approve what the Hate Speech Working Group produces?
  24. Battaglia said yes. He said that the Hate Speech Working Group will come up with 3-5 different proposals, which will then come before the Codes and Judicial Committee for approval as a resolution, which will then go before the University Assembly for approval, and then finally be conveyed to President Pollack for approval, and in the case that it deals with Title IX, it must go before the Board of Trustees for approval.
  25. Park said that she thinks that is was valuable to have the discussion. She also said that it will be valuable to look at the intent of actions, because, from her understanding, in the case of the Latino Living Center incident, she said that the male accused was an inebriated member of the Latinx community, and that he yelled “build a wall” at the Latino Living Center one time on a dare, but it was never his intent to cause as much trouble as he did.
  26. Horvath made a motion to have the Chair of the Hate Speech Working Group, Conor Hodges, propose a timeline and a forum structure and dates to the Codes and Judicial Committee, then close discussion on the topic.
  27. Ashford said that there were valid complaints raised, but it seemed as if Matt Battaglia was held accountable for a lot more people’s actions, like adopting the structure of the Hate Speech Working Group. She said that, whether it is Matt Battaglia, or Conor Hodges, going forward, the Codes and Judicial Committee should look at the structure of any forum to make sure that there is not only one person that is fielding questions and being held accountable. She said that she would like to see a different format going forward.
  28. Battaglia said that he got a lot of passionate feedback, which is valuable because it shows that people care. He said that part of leadership means getting caught in the crossfire. He said that he heard feedback that the process was going too slow, too fast, that it was too inclusive, or too exclusive.
  29. Bensel praised M. Battaglia for his work on the Community Forum. He said that the forum must have some preparation, and that, in this case, it is not irrelevant to talk about the event at the Latino Living Center because it is came up at the forum. xxiv. V. Price asked, do people know that they can email you [M. Battaglia], and now C. Hodges to voice their opinions? She said that this process is meant to hear as many people as possible and that it is not meant to be orderly.
  30. Battaglia said that he agrees. He said that, when more people know that they can be heard, then there will be more feedback and success for the Hate Speech Working Group.
  31. Park said that the ILR Town Hall model was successful because everyone received notice and was encouraged to submit questions. She said that this structure will help people that cannot come, and also help to add more structure to the forum.
  32. Battaglia said that he can also contact Institutional Research and Planning to create, publish, and summarize the results of a survey that the Codes and Judicial Committee can analyze.
  33. Waymack-Point of Order-She said that M. Battaglia jumped in when V. Price was speaking.
  34. Price said that it was not an issue.
  35. Ashford said that it might be valuable to make sure that more members of the Codes and Judicial Committee are present, as well as have different people with varying levels of knowledge.
  36. Stetson said that he agrees that people will settle down as they have the opportunity to be heard. He said that what was heard has been the pain and hurting that was being discussed previously, and that it will be vented, and we [the Codes and Judicial Committee] will get good stuff.
  37. Stetson said that he is uncomfortable with resolving a different timeline because the University Assembly is the governing body of the Codes and Judicial Committee. He said that it would be better to request or recommend that the University Assembly consider a new timeline.
  38. Lieberwitz said that it seems as if N. Stetson is contrasting in terms of what he said about people expressing hurt feelings, and contrasting that with good stuff. She said, she thinks that the actual feelings that people have are real.
  39. Stetson said that he is not saying that those are valid or that they are not feedback, but rather that the matter in which we [the Codes and Judicial Committee] gets feedback is likely to organize as people express their feelings and begin to organize their own thoughts and begin to feel hurt. He said that he was not attempting to pass any judgements on the feelings and expression of pain.
  40. Lieberwitz said that she did not think that N. Stetson meant it that way, but those feelings matter, and although they don’t dictate where we [the Codes and Judicial Committee] go, it matters. She said that vocabulary that is used is important; be careful to be inclusive of what people are expressing. She said that forums require real planning and preparation. She said that people are busy with other obligations, so planning can be used to make sure that there is adequate representation of the Codes and Judicial Committee at the forums. xxxv. G. Kaufman recommended that there be multiple people from the Codes and Judicial Committee and the Hate Speech Working Group up front at the forums.
  41. Waymack said that the Codes and Judicial Committee continues to talk as if it is running the Hate Speech Working Group, and that, in some ways, that is true, but that is important to give separation and autonomy to the Hate Speech Working Group to allow the group to gain the trust of the community. She said that it is best to leave them to decide the structure of the forum.
  42. Kaufman said that he doesn’t know how autonomous the Hate Speech Working Group can be because there are members on both the Hate Speech Working Group and the Codes and Judicial Committee, and because of the fact that the Hate Speech Working Group is an Adhoc subcommittee of the Codes and Judicial Committee.
  43. Horvath motioned to have the Chair of the Hate Speech Working Group, Conor Hodges, present a revised timeline and a forum structure and dates to the Codes and Judicial Committee, on paper or in person. R. Bensel seconded the motion. 1. By a vote of 7-0-1, the motion was adopted.
  44. Kruser said that he foresees a request for an alternative timeline, and he suggested having a date for when the timeline will be provided.
  45. Waymack asked that the timeline not be referred to as “whimsical.”

November 7

The following is from the minutes:

There were not enough members present to reach a quorum. The members present had a discussion about the Hate Speech Working Group, additional ideas for the upcoming forum(s), appointments to the Hate Speech Working Group, thoughts on the Presidential Task Force, Codes and Judicial Committee attendance records for the members, and University Hearing and Review Board applicant questions (during which time, the Judicial Administrator. M. Horvath, excused herself from the room). The meeting audio can be found online at assembly.cornell.edu, listed under the Codes and Judicial Committee meeting date of October 7, 2017.

  1. Kaufman said that he is very angry at the lack of attendance at the Codes and Judicial Committee meetings.
  2. Battaglia also mentioned his disappointment at the lack of attendance.

November 15

Minutes not yet posted.

Last Updated: November 24, 2017 at 10:31 am