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Interim Expressive Activity Policy

(from Cornell's recent statement on University policies under development)

Cornell has a longstanding history of faculty, staff, and students engaging in expressive activity by hosting events, and through protests, postering, chalking, and installations. Our existing rules governing these kinds of expressive activity, including expectations of nonviolence, have until now been maintained by different campus offices. We seek to elevate and expand awareness of these guidelines by concentrating them in a university-wide interim Expressive Activity Policy.

As embodied in Cornell’s Core Values, adopted in 2019, “We are a community whose very purpose is the pursuit of knowledge. We value free and open inquiry and expression — tenets that underlie academic freedom — even of ideas some may consider wrong or offensive. Inherent in this commitment is the corollary freedom to engage in reasoned opposition to messages to which one objects.”

The Student Code of Conduct, implemented in August 2021, includes numerous principles governing expressive activity. Reiterating these values in a consolidated campus-wide policy will further encourage an environment that allows all Cornellians to exercise their rights to speak freely and to hear competing viewpoints. As such, the interim policy outlines reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on expressive activity on campus, including rules on when and where protests may occur, and how posters and signage may be displayed, for instance. The policy also sets out rules that prohibit interfering with invited speakers or engaging in harassment.

It is important to note that the interim Expressive Activity Policy does not supersede classroom and curricular experiences, which are the purview of faculty. Vice Provost for Academic Innovation Steven Jackson will be leading faculty discussions to develop guidelines and a multifaceted approach to expressive activities within the academic context.