News: Cornell students arrested for protesting parking lot

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As a Big Red alumna, I'm disappointed that the current Cornell administration: (1) decided to raze a 100 year old forest for a parking lot; (2) overrode the wishes of the town of Ithaca to preserve the area; and (3) arrested students protesting the creation of the parking lot. See story from the Ithaca Journal here or the AP newsfeed here. My own fond memories of student protests in the early 1990s did not include arrests, the new administration is using police force instead of the gentle art of conciliation and negotiation. I hope other alumnae and alumni consider writing to President Jeffrey Lehman.


This is ridiculous. I know how strongly those students feel, but when the decision has been made by a Court after two years of legal wrangling, enough is enough. Protesting in this manner just shows the students' stubbornness and unwillingness to accept the democratic outcome, and I'm not surprised onlookers cheered when they were arrested. Imagine if Al Gore had a sit-in protest outside the White House in 2000!

Hmm.. I'd have to respectfully disagree. The outcome was hardly "democratic." The Cornell trustees unilaterally decided that they wanted a parking lot more than a forest. The state court decided that they had the right to make the decision. But it still stands that Cornell students and the residents of the town of Ithaca feel otherwise. There was never a poll or vote taken one way or the other.

I do think peaceful protests should be allowed. The students may have been a bit ... exuberant ... but Cornell does have the reputation of being the "Berkeley of the East." Previous administrations have defused student agitation without resorting to having students arrested. They could have handled this better....

Democratic outcome does not mean everyone votes on everything. I used democracy to mean the civil society we live in and the mechanisms which it has in place to resolve disputes. It means the rule of law, and accepting the decisions of the courts and the juries that are appointed to assist the courts in reaching their decisions. Whatever feelings you may have about the forests, the move was legal and was upheld by indepedent courts of law (which are key institutions in a democratic civil society). If people are unwilling to accept the outcome of decisions made by the courts, there will be disorder. Of course, Cornell could have handled it better, but so could the student protesters. The courts cannot give in to the protesters-- surely they must have realised that-- else no one will respect the decision of the courts in future. So those students were just seeking publicity.

This just reminds me of the Terri Schiavo case, the parents were just unwilling to accept the outcome, it was just sad seeing them fight in that manner, the way they were just so unwilling to let go, still clinging on after 15 years, it's just so sad.

I think we're on the same side here. As an alumn, I think that the trustees should have done a better job of public relations in making sure that the students and the towns were in agreement. But the trustees do occasionally need to make decisions that people disagree about.

I do disagree with the trustee decision to send in the police to arrest the protesters. My own fond memories of student activism usually ended when we realized that camping out in Day Hall wasn't nearly as much fun as we thought it would be, and that finals were rapidly approaching. The administration in my day (the early nineties) was patient enough to wait us out.

Nowadays, it is becoming harder and harder to mobilize in the USA without significant police harassment. It's kind of ironic since I'm covering disability protests here in Japan. So far, the police have been exceedingly patient and I have not seen a single disability protester arrested here. Which is more than can be said for many of the disability protests in the United States.

America is at risk at losing its civil society if it does not allow for peaceful public protests in visible areas -- not cordoned off into protest zones far away from the public gaze.

p.s. Creating a TypeKey account will mean that I won't have to manually approve your messages each time. It gets old quickly and I don't check the site every day, so if you want your next post to be approved, please go through TypeKey.

There is a difference between protesting and harrassment. To enter the president's office, chained together with steel pipes, refuse to leave when asked... that's different from holding banners outside protesting. The Constitution guarantees the right to peaceful assembly, but does not give a licence for harrassment.

Protests are fine, although I cannot believe how those anti-globalisation "protesters" take every opportunity to spread destruction. With protesters like these, who can blame the police for being heavy-handed first, and asking questions later?

Arresting students, it's the in thing now! See this article about the University of Minnesota also getting in on the act:

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on April 30, 2005 11:15 AM.

Photo: New York cab drivers at Kennedy airport was the previous entry in this blog.

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