Cornell University Would Welcome ISIS Training Camps, Speakers – Disputed!
Summary of eRumor:
A Cornell University dean said he would allow an ISIS training camps and speakers on the campus.
Claims that an assistant dean at Cornell said ISIS training exercises and speakers would be allowed there are disputed.
A man posing as a student from Morocco used a hidden camera to record an exchange with Cornell Dean for Students Joseph Scaffido for Project Veritas, an organization founded by conservative activist James O’Keefe.
In the video, the student asks Scaffido questions about starting a humanitarian group for distressed areas of the Middle East, bringing people to the campus to speak, and holding training exercises for “freedom fighters.”
Here’s a transcript of the conversation:
Student: I think maybe it would be nice to start a humanitarian group that supports distressed communities, a humanitarian group in the Middle East, in northern Iraq and Syria. I think it would be important especially for people in the Islamic State Iraq and Syria, the families and the freedom fighters in particular. I think it would be important to maybe just probably educate, but to maybe send them care packages, whether it be food, water, electronics.
Scaffido: There are a lot of our student organizations that do things like that all over the world.
Student: If you did like, supported like Hamas or something like that, is that a problem?
Scaffido: The university is not going to look at different groups and say, ‘You’re 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.
Student: That would be good. Maybe, you know, get a group that educates on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and just educate people, maybe bring them in.
Scaffido: Ithaca is a great place. Ithaca itself, the community of Ithaca is also very active. I don’t know if you’ve talked to many people about it, it’s very liberal; the community is a very liberal community … There are funding sources on campus … kind of like grants, programming money. If I wanted to bring in a speaker…
Student: Maybe we could get like a freedom fighter to come and do like a training camp for students?
Scaffido: I have no idea. I mean, you would be allowed to do something like that. It’s just like bringing in a coach to do training on a sports team or something.
Scaffido definitely doesn’t say that these things wouldn’t be allowed on campus. But an unedited version of the video would be needed to understand his actual responses.
After video of the interview went viral, Cornell officials shot back that it had been creatively edited to make Scaffido appear to endorse ISIS training camps and speakers on the campus.
In a statement, Cornell University President David Skorton said the video’s allegations were ludicrous and offensive:
“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.”