University initially said it would sanction the students involved
There is no clear progress on possible sanctions against students who disrupted a speech by conservative commentator Ann Coulter, a full four months since the initial incident.
Cornell University’s media team has not responded to multiple inquiries in the past months on possible punishments for the student activists. The College Fix also emailed communications director Rebecca Valli on March 6 and asked for an update on investigations into the students involved and what Cornell planned to do in the future to prevent similar problems.
The silence comes despite an initial strong statement from university leadership that criticized the Nov. 9 disruption.
“Eight college-age individuals were removed from the auditorium following Cornell protocols,” Joel Malina, vice president for university relations, told the media in November 2022. “All Cornell students among the disrupters will be referred for conduct violations.”
“Cornell apologizes to Ms. Coulter and all members of the audience who hoped to hear her remarks,” Malina also said at the time. “The inappropriate behavior displayed by disrupters does not reflect the university’s values.”
The university also refused to accede to a student petition prior to the event that demanded its cancellation.
Yet there remains no indication that sanctions have moved forward. The conservative Cornell Review reported that as of Jan. 28 there had been no clear update.
“Notably, Cornell has not publicly pursued group accountability for organizations that may have sponsored or incited the disruptors at the Ann Coulter event,” the student publication reported.
Coulter, a Cornell graduate, was hosted by the campus Network of Enlightened Women chapter. The national organization told The Fix that free speech and debate should be protected at the Ivy League university.
The conservative group “believes it is the responsibility of colleges and universities to create an environment that fosters intellectual diversity among their students,” spokeswoman Kathryn Alford wrote. “Students, including conservative women, need to be able to engage in meaningful dialogue. We are eager for an update on what is being done at Cornell to more effectively create such an environment.”
Coulter previously released a statement through the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.
“In nearly 20 years of college speeches, I’ve never been prevented from speaking at any Ivy League school, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and—until now—Cornell. Even at Berkeley, where I spoke in 2019, despite several thousand Antifa protesters, the anti-free speech fascists weren’t students at the school,” Coulter stated. “At the better schools, you see, students have too much intellectual self-respect to scream and carry on. They want to beat you in Q&A.”
She said it is “amazing” and “dispiriting” how the situation has “changed at my beloved alma mater.”
“The students who prevented me from speaking were not engaging in fiery argument, or any kind of argument at all, but the most anti-intellectual response imaginable: whoopie cushions, screaming, and loud circus music—mocking the very purpose of a university,” she wrote. “And this behavior was enabled by Cornell.”
Coulter stated further:
The interruptions came one at a time, with each one causing a five-minute break in the proceedings, as we all waited for a college administrator to walk down the aisle and shuffle across to the student—whoopie cushion still blaring—in order to issue a “first warning.” Only if that specific student did it again would he be asked to leave.
Obviously, this tepid and time-consuming procedure merely encouraged the others. So, one after another, the interruptions continued until it became clear that it would not end. And it never will end, unless Cornell expels the students who wasted everyone’s time and prevented my speech. Odd, how sublimely confident they were that there would be no consequences for their actions.
“Unless Cornell expels the disrupters and demands that they pay for the speech they prevented, students have been given the green light to shut down any speech, waste everyone’s time and money, and make a joke of free speech at this allegedly world-class university,” she stated.
ACTA previously told The Fix that the “students who disrupted Ann Coulter’s speech should be suspended, especially since President [Martha] Pollack has stated that they were given advance warning.”
The group also sent a letter to President Pollack in November that demanded punishments.
IMAGE: Firing Line with Margaret Hoover | PBS/YouTube