Assistant Dean at Cornell University Welcomed Freedom Fighters to Campus

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( — March 26, 2015)  — A video by an undercover reporter purports to show an assistant dean at Cornell University saying that members of the Islamic State group (ISIS) would be welcome on campus. Conservative activist James O’Keefe, author of the Project Veritas, disguised as a student from Morocco, secretly recorded his conversation with Assistant Dean for Students Joseph Scaffido about starting a club at the university on March 16.

Posing as a human rights activists, O’Keefe asked if he could establish “humanitarian group that supports distressed communities…in the Middle East, northern Iraq and Syria.” Then the reporter said the idea is to send “care packages” including food, water and electronics to freedom fighters and their families in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“There are a lot of our student organizations that do things like that all over the world,” Scaffido responds.

Further, O’Keefe asked Scaffido if it would be a problem for the club to support Hamas.

“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 them’ or something like that,” Scaffido responded. “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.”

Then O’Keefe pushed it further asking if it would be possible to bring in a freedom fighter to speak at Cornell. Scaffido not yet realizing the conversation took a different course, however, he demonstrated that Cornell is a warm-welcoming host to anyone.

“Sure,” Scaffido replied. “I think programs like that really do have a good place here at Cornell,” suggesting Cornell’s Bailey Hall, which can seat some 1,300 students, as a venue for such a program.

O’Keefe then pushed it to the end by asking if the activist group he allegedly plans to establish at the Cornell University could in fact get a freedom fighter to come and do a training camp for Cornell students.

“I have no idea,” Scaffido responds before saying. “You would be allowed to do something like that. It’s just bringing in a coach to do training on a sports team or something.”

It’s worth saying that O’Keefe never used words like “ISIS” or “terrorist” during the conversation, he kind of masked it with the “freedom fighters” in “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” however he directly asked about Hamas which is officially on the US State Department terrorist organizations list.

“Cornell fully supports the free exchange of ideas and does not review or control the political ideology of our students. We do not, of course, tolerate unlawful advocacy of violence, and the comment about training by ISIS freedom fighters does not reflect university policy,” Cornell replied in a statement to the NY Post when asked for a comment on the story.

Cornell University President David Skorton also issued a statement in response to the Project Veritas piece:

“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,” Skorton wrote in a statement, adding that the University “remains vigilant in maintaining an appropriate balance of freedom of expression within accepted boundaries.”