Video: Let's start a club! Update: Cornell responds

Call this a tale of two college cities. Project Veritas decided to pay a visit to Cornell University, a highly regarded institution of higher learning, to see just how easy it might be to start a club on campus. This wouldn’t be a chess club or a chapter of the Young Republicans, but a club that would offer material support for groups listed on the State Department’s roster of terrorist organizations, and have them send officials over to run “training camps” at the school. They asked an assistant dean whether this would be possible, to which Joseph Scaffido said … well, you’d have to watch it to believe it:

In O’Keefe’s latest video, Scaffido is captured on hidden camera advising the Project Veritas journalist not only how to start the club, but how to obtain funding to send care packages to ISIS and Hamas, and astonishingly, how to bring a member of ISIS to Cornell to run a “training camp.” Indeed, Scaffido went as far as to say: “It’s just like bringing in a coach, to do a training on a sports team or something.”

When the Project Veritas journalist suggested that the club would support Hamas as well as ISIS, Scaffido stated: “the University [Cornell] is not going to look at different groups and say you are not allowed to support that group.  Because we don’t believe in them or something like that.  I think it’s just the opposite.  I think the University wants the entire community to understand what’s going on in all parts of the world.”

This new Project Veritas video shockingly and frighteningly exposes that Cornell, an esteemed and storied Ivy League University, is truly detached from reality. This is particularly egregious due to the fact that Cornell has received over $300 million in federal contracts and grants since 2000 and more than $190 million from New York state taxpayers since 2012.

Well, the university may not look at the groups any differently, but the State Department and the Department of Justice certainly would. In that sense, this would have been a non-starter anyway, and a student group that tried to get someone in the country from ISIS or Hamas would have more problems than just getting clearance for the venue. The idea is so ridiculous that it seems almost impossible to believe that Scaffido was cognizant of exactly what the journalist was asking. The undercover journalist did say “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” more than once and also mentions Hamas for possible support, both of which are listed as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by State, but perhaps he thought “freedom fighters” referred to those fighting against ISIS and Hamas?

I’m sure Cornell will clarify this shortly.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have George Washington University, located in our nation’s capital. The conservative group Young America’s Foundation has been told that they aren’t welcome on GWU’s campus, unless they undergo “sensitivity training” after offending an LGBT support organization. Did YAF offer support for overseas terror networks? Plan a “training camp” for ISIS? No, their offense runs much deeper, according to the group protesting them. They refuse to use gender-sensitive pronouns.

Seriously:

The Young America’s Foundation student organization at George Washington University could be at risk of losing funding over its opposition to mandatory LGBT sensitivity training, a stance that has thrust the group into a firestorm of controversy on campus and prompted some to ridicule its members and accuse them of “hate.” …

Allied in Pride, an LGBT group on campus, accused YAF of “intolerance and a pattern of hate” for inviting former Sen. Rick Santorum, a conservative Republican, to speak. The group also stated the conservative club’s funding should be revoked.

“The Young America’s Foundation is a political organization, not a religious one, so they cannot seek a religious exemption,” the group wrote on its Facebook page. “And their refusal to use preferred gender pronouns should be considered an act of violence and a violation of the non-discrimination clause required in all GW student organizations’ Constitutions.”

The preferred pronouns are …

Allied in Pride recently issued an “Allied in Pride Queer Guide” at the school providing a list of preferred “non-binary prounouns,” such as “they/them,” “ze/hir” and “xe/xir.”

It also called YAF’s refusal to use preferred gender pronouns “an act of violence” and a violation of the GW non-discrimination clause.

Remind me again why young men and women are taking on life-crippling debt to check themselves into these lunatic asylums. The future of online college education has never looked brighter, thanks to the examples set by Cornell and GWU.

Update: Cornell’s Tracy Vosburgh, Associate Vice President, University Communications, sent the following letter out to parents:

President responds to ‘ludicrous’ and ‘offensive’ allegation

March 25, 2015

As the president of Cornell University, I want to be clear that the notion that Cornell would allow ISIS training sessions on our campus is ludicrous and absolutely offensive.

Project Veritas, the organization behind this shoddy piece of “journalism” has been repeatedly vilified for dishonest, deceitful activity. It is shameful that any individual would pose as a student facing racial discrimination at another university, ask leading questions on hidden camera about Cornell’s tolerance for differing viewpoints and backgrounds, and then conveniently splice together the resulting footage to smear our assistant dean and our University. After speaking with Assistant Dean Scaffido, I am convinced that he was not aware of what he was being asked.

Let me be clear: Cornell has an unwavering commitment to the free and responsible exchange of ideas. However, we remain vigilant in maintaining an appropriate balance of freedom of expression within accepted boundaries. Of course, incitement to violence is not protected and would never be tolerated on our campus.

David J. Skorton
President

As I wrote initially, it’s not quite clear that Scaffido grasped what was being asked, although he should have been. After all, an associate dean isn’t exactly an entry-level position.