An independent organization advocating for free expression, viewpoint diversity, and academic freedom at Cornell University

Read this Overview of the threat to academic freedom now facing Cornell.

Mission Statement

Mission Statement : The Cornell Free Speech Initiative. CFSA aims to assist and encourage Cornell to uphold its primary mission and the founding vision of Ezra Cornell by supporting and advancing Free Expression, Viewpoint Diversity, and Academic Freedom on campus. To accomplish this goal, CFSA has launched the "Cornell Free Speech Initiative". Composed of supporters from across the political spectrum, CFSA is a politically non-partisan organization which welcomes the participation of all persons who care about the future of Cornell. While having many faculty members and students as supporters, CFSA is an alumni led organization which is wholly independent from Cornell University. CFSA is a member of the Alumni Free Speech Alliance (AFSA) whose goal is to advance Free Expression, Viewpoint Diversity, and Academic Freedom at universities and colleges across America.

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The Cornell Free Speech Alliance (“CFSA”) is a politically non-partisan organization founded by a group of Cornell alumni and faculty members in September 2021 for the purpose of protecting and promoting Free Expression, Viewpoint Diversity, and Academic Freedom at Cornell University.  CFSA's goal is to work cooperatively with Cornell University to advance these critically important objectives which are essential to the university's fundamental educational mission. As a concerned but non-partisan group, our supporters hold views which range broadly across the political spectrum. CFSA supporters have joined together to launch the Cornell Free Speech Initiative .

The impediments to freedom of expression, diversity of views, and free academic inquiry at Cornell have grown acute in recent years. To better understand the speech suppression and viewpoint restrictions now existing at the university, see the Report from Cornell Faculty and Students. As made clear by these faculty and student observations, the serious free speech impairments in operation on campus today directly conflict with Cornell's basic educational purpose. This suppression of free speech at Cornell is wholly indefensible. For this reason, CFSA is committed to help bring much needed change to the current conditions now prevailing on campus.      

While we are an alumni-based organization, any person who cares about Cornell and its future – including alumni, students, faculty, administrators, parents of students, staff, and others – are welcome to participate in CFSA. We encourage all who support freedom of speech, diversity of thought, and unimpeded academic study at Cornell to subscribe to CFSA quarterly updates and to draw upon the CFSA website as a key resource for information. CFSA maintains strict confidentiality with respect to its subscribers and supporters. CFSA participant names and contact information are not shared with or provided to any outside party unless approved by Subscribers. CFSA is an alumni led organization which is wholly independent from Cornell University.

CFSA also directly supports any members of the Cornell Community who experience serious infringement of their rights to free speech and viewpoint diversity. Persons who have experienced such infringement can recruit CFSA assistance by reaching out via the Get Help feature of this website. CFSA aligns with several other leading organizations in defense of First Amendment rights on US college campuses. A list of these organizations can be found here : Aligned Organizations.

Right ribCFSA was founded based on the belief that Free Expression, Viewpoint Diversity, and Academic Freedom stand at the very core of Cornell University’s mission as a preeminent global institution of higher learning. However, this primary purpose of Cornell (and other major universities) is now under direct assault. Students, faculty, administrators, independent research organizations, and major media are today observing and reporting that highly repressive environments, major challenges to freedom of expression, oppressive ideological orthodoxy, intolerance of thought diversity, barriers to academic freedom, and a monoculture which imposes intensive “Group Think” now exist at Cornell and many other leading US universities.

All Cornellians well know Ezra Cornell’s vision for the ages:  “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study”. While this proclamation is the official motto emblazoned on the university shield and logo, this fundamental purpose of Cornell University is now under serious threat. The CFSA mission is to assist and encourage Cornell to uphold its primary purpose and the founding vision of Ezra Cornell–and to support all members of the Cornell Community who are being confronted or intimidated for expressing their views or who are being impeded from pursuing a free path of academic thought and inquiry.  CFSA also provides a means for Cornell alumni, students, faculty, administrators, staff, parents and others to contact the University about specific developments which pose threats to Free Speech, Viewpoint Diversity, and/or  Academic Freedom on campus.

CFSA explicitly urges Cornell University to adopt the “Chicago Principles” which set forth the policy of free expression and academic freedom now memorialized at the University of Chicago (read the Chicago Principles here). The “Chicago Principles” have been adopted by over eighty leading universities. However, Cornell University has not yet acted on the adoption of these essential free speech principles. CFSA has also recommended that Cornell University take specific action steps aimed at protecting and advancing basic First Amendment freedoms on campus. See the “Cornell Action Items” tab of this website to review the additional actions which CFSA recommends that Cornell undertake.

CFSA is a Founding Member of the Alumni Free Speech Alliance (AFSA) whose purpose is to advance Free Expression, Viewpoint Diversity, and Academic Freedom at universities and colleges across America. Listen to a Brief Overview Of AFSA Here. CFSA is politically non-partisan and will advance and defend the free speech of progressives, moderates, and conservatives alike. CFSA does not take positions on individual issues not related to our mission.