Statement on unauthorized tents on Arts Quad

Free and open expression, including peaceful protest, is core to Cornell’s values. We want always to allow a diversity of voices to speak and to be heard. At the same time, it is important that such expression not infringe on the rights of others in our campus community nor pose a risk to public health and safety. Towards these ends, we have a set of content-neutral time, place, and manner rules that guide permissible expressive activity at Cornell.

Early this morning, a group of about 30 individuals erected tents on the Arts Quad in violation of Cornell’s policies. Cornell’s policies allow for outdoor camping with prior registration. For public safety, tents must be placed in authorized locations and cannot remain in place for more than one week in duration.

Climate Justice Cornell, a registered student organization, did register and receive permission for an art installation on the Arts Quad through 8:00 p.m. this evening. In their registration, however, the group indicated there would not be any tents.

Early this morning, the individuals in the tents were advised that they had been dishonest in their event registration and, additionally, were in violation of university policy regarding tents. They were offered an alternative, approved location between Day Hall and Sage Chapel. The individuals requested and received time to consider their options, and ultimately decided not to comply. They were then told that if the tents were not taken down promptly, they would be subject to disciplinary action. They did not comply, and suspensions, for students, and HR referrals, for faculty and staff, will be issued.

This is not an outcome we welcome. We want to provide avenues for everyone to make their voices heard, but this must be done in ways that respect the policies we have in place to protect the public health and safety of our community and the rights of all to do their work.

Joel M. Malina
Vice President for University Relations