“Elevated Risk & High-Risk Events”
A new policy on student gatherings caught the eye of the free speech defenders at FIRE.
From the FIRE Newsdesk:
June 2021 Speech Code of the Month: Cornell University
As COVID-19 vaccination rates rise across the country and the public health risk of holding large gatherings decreases, colleges will likely be reviewing their events policies for necessary changes over the summer. One school that is past due revisiting its policy is Cornell University, FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month for June.
Cornell’s policy on “Elevated Risk & High-Risk Events,” which was around long before the pandemic hit, lists various reasons students must file an “Event Registration Form” with the university in advance.
There are some legitimate reasons why an event organizer might need to give a university notice about a particular event, like when they are planning a march on a street, and traffic will need to be shut down. But take a look at some of the factors from Cornell’s policy:
– Has a similar event caused any form of disruption at Cornell in the past?
– Has a similar event caused any form of disruption on another campus?
– Has a similar event been characterized as elevated or high risk, or problematic by any media?
– Are there historic reasons why there may be opposition to the event?
– Has there been litigation, including a Supreme Court case, connected to the topics of the event?
That list would allow administrators at Cornell to shut down essentially any event they want by claiming the organizer should’ve submitted an “Event Registration Form.”
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