Cornell University Officials Claim Accusations of Censoring Pro-Life Signs False

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 23, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Cornell University Officials Claim Accusations of Censoring Pro-Life Signs False

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 23
, 2008

Ithaca, NY ( — Cornell University officials claim a student pro-life group’s allegations of it censoring pro-life signs it displayed on campus are false. The Cornell Coalition for Life says College of Engineering staff removed a display it erected to educate students about fetal development even though it obtained permission beforehand.

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.

In a response send to, Thomas W. Bruce, the Vice President for University Communications, says the Cornell official "removed them out of concern that proper authorizations had not been received."

"After receiving information that the group, Cornell Coalition for Life, had indeed received the appropriate approvals for posting the signs — after a meeting with members of the group and Engineering administrators apologies were given and the group was told that it could repost the signs immediately," Bruce said.

Bruce indicated the signs were back on display the same morning and contended the removal had nothing to do with a desire to limit free speech.

Tristen Cramer, a CCL member, talked with and said Cornell hasn’t sent an official response to the group even though it contacted Cornell officials about the incident.

"The Cornell Coalition for Life stands by our earlier statement as they were a fair and accurate description of the events of Wednesday morning," she said.

Cramer says Bruce’s description of events is not accurate.

"We have been told that the Cornell Administration is claiming our signs were returned immediately upon proof of approval, but this is false. We showed the forms indicating approval before the signs were even taken inside and the administrative assistant refused to return the material," she explained.

As first reported, 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.

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."

Related web sites:
Cornell Coalition for Life –

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