University policies under development

Dear Ithaca, AgriTech, and Cornell Tech communities,

We write regarding two interim policies, released today, related to expressive activities and doxxing. Work on these policies began in spring 2023, in the lead-up to our freedom of expression theme year, and last semester underscored the importance of such policies as we, as a community of scholars, engage across difference and take on challenging and controversial topics. We are now seeking the Cornell community’s assistance in refining and finalizing these important policies.

While the university has already sought and obtained thoughtful feedback on these interim policies from various campus stakeholders, in the coming weeks we are inviting further community input through the University Assembly, which represents the common interests of students, faculty, and staff. Furthermore, Student and Campus Life will continue to engage with students to obtain input on these policies and associated resources.

Interim Expressive Activity Policy

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.

Interim Anti-Doxxing Policy

Members of our community have expressed concerns about an increase in doxxing around the country, and at Cornell, as a form of intimidation that stifles expression. The Student Code of Conduct already prohibits behaviors often associated with doxxing, such as endangerment, harassment, and invasion of privacy. Creating a university-wide policy elevates this issue and strengthens our resolve to protect all members of our community from having personal information shared by others with the intent or knowledge that it may be used to threaten, intimidate, or cause harm. The university has also created a doxxing resource guide to assist anyone targeted by any such vicious and cowardly attacks. This guide will continue to be enhanced as additional tools and strategies are developed to support those who have been impacted.

In a time of growing national and global conflict, it is paramount that Cornell honor our commitments to academic freedom, free expression, and belonging. It is also important that Cornell enforces these and all policies that govern conduct on our campus by members of our community.

As the university continues to solicit feedback, we encourage all faculty, staff, and students to engage in the process of reviewing and commenting on these interim policies. They will be presented at the University Assembly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6, from 4:45 to 6 p.m. in 401 Physical Sciences Building or by Zoom.


Martha E. Pollack

Mike Kotlikoff

Ryan Lombardi
Vice President for Student and Campus Life

Christine Lovely
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer