One of the most important products of the past 2000 years of Western Civilization is today’s university educational system in America. The US university system is the very best in the world -- and Cornell has long been one of the finest institutions of higher learning in America. Yet, today, the fundamental mission and purpose of Cornell and other leading US universities face a grave threat. This University President explains the brokenness of the educational environment now existing at Cornell and at universities across America.
Diversity of thought and academic freedom are of fundamental importance to the concept and mission of the modern University. Therefore, the highest calling of University leadership, faculty, and alumni is to protect and advance intellectual diversity and freedom of study on campus. Over the past 40 years, with the intended aim of advancing such viewpoint diversity, Cornell and other US universities have successfully endeavored to broaden the cultural, racial, and gender composition of university faculty, administrators, students, and staff. The Cornell Free Speech Alliance (CFSA) strongly endorses and supports past and current efforts to diversify the composition of, and to broaden the cultural backgrounds within, the Cornell Community.
However, a major misdirection of the “diversity objective” at Cornell and other US universities has led to a tragic result which now threatens the very mission of the University. The primary purpose of bringing a greater range of personal backgrounds and human experience to the Cornell Community has been to substantially broaden viewpoint diversity within the university. Yet, while great progress has been made with respect to cultural, racial, and gender diversity, a faulty implementation of the “diversity objective” at Cornell has brought an outcome which is precisely the opposite of its primary objective – because the effect of this long-term effort has been to expunge, rather than expand, viewpoint diversity on campus. Today, it has become manifestly clear to all Americans (including research organizations, major media, and ordinary citizens) that, over the past 40 years, viewpoint diversity on campus has been greatly diminished – and now teeters on the verge of extinction at Cornell. As a consequence, like at other major US universities, the circumstances at Cornell University are now as follows :
Forty years ago, faculty and students at Cornell had more similar backgrounds, but had the freedom to think very differently.
Today, faculty and students at Cornell have a greater diversity of backgrounds, but overwhelmingly think more in lock-step and within narrowly circumscribed boundaries which are set and regulated by an increasingly intolerant university-wide Monoculture.
Based on reports from faculty, students, and news media from across the political and cultural spectrum, Cornell is now captive to a “University Monoculture” and “Group Think” which has become oppressive and intolerant of viewpoint diversity. The student-run campus newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun, reports that 99.5% of all Cornell faculty and staff political donations go to a single political party. This is stunning evidence of the monolithic Group Think environment that now dominates Cornell and steers the curriculum & discourse on campus. Today, Cornell faculty and students regularly report a range of alarming challenges to basic First Amendment freedoms now prevailing on campus. The below "Current Campus Conditions" section outlines how Free Speech, Viewpoint Diversity, and Academic Freedom are currently under assault at Cornell and other major US universities.
Current Campus Conditions
CURRENT CAMPUS CONDITIONS: