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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

April 30, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Open Letter: College expresses support for free speech

The number one priority of the Office of Public Safety at Ithaca College is to help create an environment in which all members of the campus community and visitors can safely live, learn, teach, and work.

Earlier this week the college sent a letter to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200United, which represents the bargaining units for the college’s part-time, per-course and full-time contingent faculty. That letter was intended to ensure that those who might otherwise not be aware of Ithaca College policies understand the college’s standard rules and regulations. The letter was sent by the Chief of the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, Bill Kerry.

The protests that took place at the college entrance on Feb. 20 and Feb. 24 involved a number of people who are not faculty or students of the college and who may not know the policies regarding such topics as solicitation and the intentional disruption of college activities:

http://www.ithaca.edu/policies/vol2/volume_2-212/
http://www.ithaca.edu/policies/vol2/volume_2-231/

The Rules for the Maintenance of Public Order which were linked to in the letter clearly state that “nothing in these rules shall be construed to limit or restrict the freedom of speech or peaceful assembly.” However, any conduct that would constitute “intentional disruption or obstruction of teaching, guest lectures, research, administration, free movement, disciplinary proceedings, or other College activities” is not permitted.

Additionally, the letter was a reminder that safety protocols at a highly trafficked intersection were not followed on Feb. 24. A large group of picketers crossed Rt. 96B (a state highway) against the traffic light, disregarding both moving traffic and the requests of Public Safety officers who were at the scene attempting to ensure the safety of both pedestrians and motorists.

To reiterate, there is nothing in the letter that is intended to limit free speech or is contrary to existing policies at Ithaca College. And as is standard practice, the Office of Public Safety will continue to work, to the extent possible, directly with organizers of protests and other demonstrations in advance and during events to help ensure the safety of everyone involved.