LETTER TO THE EDITOR | We Must Have Integrity During Times of Controversy

Re: “The Coalition for Mutual Liberation Threatens to Harm Cornell From Within” (opinion, March 8)

According to the Cornell Standards of Ethical Conduct, “an environment that encourages the highest level of integrity from its members is critical to the university.” Integrity here demands further clarification. Oxford Dictionary defines integrity as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles” (I do not want to sound too lawyerly, but please bear with me). Honesty with moral principles requires us to speak up when witnessing moral wrongdoings. Protest is one way to do it. Writing is another way. There is no right or wrong way to speak up, as long as respect is maintained as a higher value.

A corollary to respect is offering a constructive critique. By this token, I do not believe accusing a large and diverse group of students who are showing an honest and serious commitment to Cornell values of “glorifying terrorism” is a constructive critique. Indeed, no one is immune from criticism. Nevertheless, it is needless to say that making false, defamatory accusations against a group of people for speaking up against the horrifying scenes we are witnessing in Gaza, Sudan and in other places in the world, clearly eliminates beforehand any honest attempt to reach an understanding. If anything, it strives to silence and outcast instead of engage and respect. While one does not have to agree with every voice heard, one should be conscious of how their opposition manifests.