Cornell University Officials Remove Students’ Abortion Display After Approval

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 22, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Cornell University Officials Remove Students’ Abortion Display After Approval

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 22
, 2008

Ithaca, NY ( — Cornell University officials are coming under fire from the pro-life student group there for infringing on their free speech rights. The campus pro-life group says a College of Engineering official removed a display it erected to educate students about fetal development even though it obtained permission for it.

The Cornell Coalition for Life has been educating its peers about abortion issues for decades and its latest effort involves the "Elena Campaign" — a series of light-hearted educational signs with pictures and text detailing the biological development of babies who are killed in abortions.

Less than one hour after CCFL set up their signs in the Engineering Quad, Dawn Warren, an administrative assistant, abruptly removed them.

Warren took the signs to the Facilities Office of the College of Engineering, even though CCFL had gone through the proper administrative avenues to get approval for the display.

The campus pro-life group told Wednesday that Warren removed the signs without permission because she did not personally approve of the content.

Tristen Cramer, a senior at Cornell University and former president of CCFL, talked with about the incident.

"It borders on the absurd that the facilities staff at the College of Engineering finds photos depicting biological fetal development to be controversial or offensive," she said. "Furthermore, it speaks volumes that this member of the Cornell staff chose to censor speech she disagreed with rather than facilitating an open discussion about the issue."

Cramer says Cornell officials went further and Warren, along with Cathy Dove, Associate Dean for Administration in the College of Engineering, attempted to prevent members of CCFL from retrieving the signs after their removal.

The pro-life students contacted Cornell University campus police, who arrived on the scene and asked Warren and Dove to relinquish the signs.

Even then, Dove tried to intimidate the students and requested that the signs not be put up again, referencing an "unwritten policy" among the College of Engineering to prevent "opinionated displays."

"The Cornell community should be aware that our right to free speech regarding relevant current issues is hindered by this so-called ‘unwritten policy,’" said Cramer.

Katherine Weible, junior at Cornell University and current president of the CCFL, told, "As an engineering student, I am surprised and disappointed that some of our staff would censor the issues that we are exposed to."

"In their claims that all engineering displays must be engineering related, they are severely short-changing all engineering students," she said.

ACTION: Contact Assoc Dean For Administration Cathy Dove about her censorship of the Cornell University display at 607-255-4914 or [email protected]. Contact Dawn Warren at 607-255-5668 or [email protected]. Also contact Cornell University president David J. Skorton by going to

Related web sites:
Cornell Coalition for Life –

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