Last year Cornell University undergraduate Neetu Chandak appeared on “Fox and Friends” to share her objection to a course description that seemed overly critical of President Donald Trump while glorifying former President Barack Obama.
Now, in an essay in The College Fix, Chandak says her remarks on Fox expressing concerns about liberal bias at the college and the explicit agenda of the course led to threats on her life and such constant harassment that she sought therapy and was afraid to leave her apartment.
“It is difficult to express conservative views as a college student without being called names, attacked personally, or even threatened by peers,” Chandak said in the essay.
“I had done the interview, not to show support or disagreement with any particular person, but to show the ridiculousness in comparing eight years of Obama’s presidency to the first 100 days of Trump’s term,” she said. “While I expected disagreement from many Cornellians for my views, I was mentally and emotionally unprepared for the backlash, name calling, and threats to my physical safety.”
The name of the course is "America Confronts the World," and the course description linked “xenophobic nationalism” to Trump and “pragmatic cosmopolitanism” to Obama, setting a tone that she believed students would be expected to echo.
Chandak, who won Miss Upstate New York’s Outstanding Teen in 2013, and was crowned Miss Seneca Falls in 2016, now is a senior.
She said she was made to feel afraid even to go to class, and she considered taking online courses.
“Considering that Cornell University’s College Republicans president was physically assaulted right after Trump was elected — shoved to the ground and called a ‘racist bitch’ — threats around here are no joke," she said.
A campus newspaper, the Cornell Sun, even did a story about her appearance, and quoted college Republicans saying that while the wording of the course description seemed skewed toward Obama and liberalism, they believed the professor would have welcomed other viewpoints.
Chandak is skeptical.
"From my situation, many found it acceptable to be hateful toward me because they perceived me as hateful," she said. "What hypocrisy."
Chandak bemoaned the chilling effect condemnation of conservative views has on college campuses, and said all students are robbed of broader perspectives.
"I am not alone in my struggle," she said. "Many people holding views similar to mine will likely not express their beliefs in the classroom or on campus out of fear of facing the isolation and threats I faced. This becomes a disadvantage for college students as the entire point is to learn about various ideas."