Cornell University President Elizabeth Garrett passed away Sunday from complications due to colon cancer. She was 52.
Garrett was a staunch defender of free speech on campus. In October, she generated headlines when she proclaimed her total opposition to mandatory trigger warnings.
"With respect to trigger warnings, first and foremost I am an absolute defender of academic freedom," said Garrett, according to The Cornell Daily Sun.
Garrett also told students that the answer to speech that made them uncomfortable was more speech:
"A university is about the fullest and freest expression of ideas and arguments. There isn't any idea that ought not to be tested and questioned. Because that's how we get closer to the truth. We're about reason, rationality, debate. So if you disagree with someone, the answer isn't to shut them down."
In an age of constant calls for censorship in response to controversial forms of expression, too few college presidents are willing to defend free speech as a necessary component of a liberal education. It's sad to lose one who did.