February 18, 2005
Students Celebrate Kyoto Victory
| February 18, 2005
Yesterday on Ho Plaza members of Kyoto Now! stood beside a large pile of coal armed with cookies and quarter cards. Their purpose was to raise awareness about the U.S.’s refusal to join the Kyoto protocol.
Sara Facci ’05, the group’s webmaster, explained that Kyoto Now! is an environmental group concerned with retrofitting older buildings with energy-saving technology. Examples of such technology are better insulation and switching over from incandescent to fluorescent lighting.
The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement among the countries of the United Nations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Many within the scientific community believe that such gases cause global warming, although the theory is still hotly contested. In order to make the law binding for other countries, either the U.S or Russia had to join the protocol. Russia eventually did.
According to Kenny Sauer ’08, vice president of Kyoto Now!, the U.S. had begun the ratification process for the protocol, but later pulled out. Kyoto Now! says it is time to raise awareness and let people know that the U.S. burns 1,095,000,000 tons of coal per year as noted by the Department of Energy and displayed on one of the group’s signs.
“We are trying to get people to understand that we emit 25 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. We should be the ones that are definitely in [the protocol],” said Sauer. Facci, Sauer and other members of the group were on Ho Plaza from about 10:30 to 2 p.m. The group’s quarter cards stated “The Kyoto Protocol is now International Law in 128 countries! Why not US? Be aware.”
Kyoto Now also stated on that cards that Bush took the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol because he fears protocol will negatively impact fossil fuel industries and the U.S economy in general.
Although the cards conceded that the protocol would indeed cause a strain on companies that produce gas, coal and oil, they said that the protocol would benefit those companies that continue to research and create products related to renewable energy technologies.
At the end of the day the group left Ho Plaza hoping they had raised a few eyebrows towards the issue of global warming and the U.S.’s refusal to be a part of the possible Kyoto solution. The group believes ratifying the Kyoto Protocol will slow the extinction of many species and decrease our reliance on fossil fuels.
Kyoto Now! provided no immediate way of protesting against the U.S.’s non-involvement in the protocol, but encouraged others to contact their local congressman to let their concerns be heard.
Archived article by Ikea Hamilton
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February 21, 2005
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks are the names etched in civil rights history, but one man in the background often helped these civil rights leaders to blaze their trails. Fred Gray, the attorney who represented these two activists in the 1950s, gave a speech entitled “Civil Rights: Past, Present, and Future” yesterday afternoon in the gymnasium of downtown Ithaca’s Beverly J. Martin Elementary School. Cal Walker, associate director of Cornell’s Learning Strategies Center, introduced Gray to the audience, saying “You will be hearing first-hand accounts of history.” The Alabama-born Gray, who served as the 43rd president of the National Bar Association, has a long history of law stretching back to 1954, when he was admitted to the Alabama Bar Association. Six months later, he represented Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old girl who refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus. Over the next two years he acted as attorney for Parks, King and the Montgomery Bus Boycott participants. “We are living today, on the 20th of February, 2005, in a crucial time …” said Gray, citing the presidential inauguration, the Iraq war and affirmative action as key issues of the day. “Unfortunately, our current students … and many of their parents, don’t know the history of the civil rights movement, don’t know what it was about, don’t even know why it was necessary,” he said. Surveying the civil rights movement, Gray went as far back as Jamestown, Virginia, and touched upon landmark cases like Dred Scott v. Sanford and Plessy v. Ferguson. “African Americans were the only ethnic group who came to this country contrary to their will,” Gray said. Even foundational documents like the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution carved out civil rights primarily for white men, said Gray. “We recite in the preamble to the Constitution ‘We the people,’ but ‘We the people’ in the preamble of the Constitution did not include people who looked like me.” “I made a secret commitment … and that was, I was going to leave Alabama, go to law school, come back to Alabama, pass the bar exam, become a lawyer and destroy everything segregated I could find,” said Gray, who laid the groundwork for the integration of all educational institutions in Alabama. As a child, Gray was interested in preaching and often baptized cats and dogs. He decided to pursue a law degree in his junior year at Alabama State University because he realized that, as important as the afterlife was, “[people] needed to enjoy some constitutional rights while here on earth.” A severe reminder of the need for protecting rights came in 1972, when Gray took on the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Researchers of the 40-year government experiment on the progress of the disease in black males hid the study’s true intent from its 600 subjects and did not treat men afflicted with syphilis even after treatment became widely available. Gray’s representation of the participants was instrumental in President Clinton’s apology to the men and their families on national TV and in establishing the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center. “Racism in this country is still alive and too many decisions are still made based on race,” Gray said. He explained that, without acknowledging racism as a major problem, people will not take reformative action. Using America’s involvement in Iraq’s government change as an example, Gray said, “If we were going to devote as much resources … to destroying racism in this country, it could be done. It hasn’t been done because we don’t have the will to do it.” Activists in the audience drew strength from Gray’s speech. “It has given me an opportunity to really think and keep going with the struggle,” said Shawn Moore, director and attorney for Human Rights Commission of Tompkins County. Moore, whose organization handles about fifty discrimination cases a month, added “I know for a fact discrimination has not come to an end.” For many, Gray’s direct participation in historical milestones made his speech very powerful. Robert Harris, Jr., vice provost for diversity and faculty services, said Gray’s visit was significant for Cornell and Ithaca “because he’s a part of history and it’s not everyday we have an opportunity to meet someone who really changed the course of history.” Walker, who helped to coordinate Gray’s visit along with Harris and other campus and county organizations, said, “Fred Gray is historically very important because of the active role he took in articulating legal strategies that changed the landscape of human and civil rights issues in this country.” For Walker, Gray’s message was a very personal one as well; he had a grandfather and great-grandfather who were both participants in the Tuskegee syphilis study. Gray also delivered a sermon titled “Learning to Live with Life’s Ups and Downs” in Sage Chapel yesterday morning.Archived article by Xiaowei Cathy TangSun Staff Writer
February 21, 2005
The crowd in the Memorial Room of Willard Straight Hall was hushed on Saturday evening as Saqib Hasan ’06 entered, accompanied by a large procession of family members. Posing as a dulha, or groom, he assumed his position on the wedding stage, wearing the traditional sehra, or gold face covering that protects the groom against the “evil eye.” Over 300 members of the Cornell and Ithaca community attended “My Big Fat Pakistani Wedding,” an event sponsored by the Pakistani Students Association (PSA). PSA president Saleem Malkana ’06 said he hoped that presenting a mock wedding, complete with dinner, dancing and a professional mehndi artist, would be “the best way” to portray Pakistani culture. Nida Bajwa ’07 played the bride, or dulhan, of Hasan. Entering ten minutes after Hasan had taken his seat, she arrived in a red and gold lengha. Bajwa was surrounded by sisters and cousins, who held her dupatta, or scarf, over her head as she proceeded to the stage, weighed down by her heavy brocade and chiffon skirt. It was Bajwa who had the idea to put on an event like this at Cornell. “I had a relative who did the same event at Columbia University, and it was a huge success there, so I got the idea to do it here,” Bawja said. She admitted that she was glad to sit down for the entire event, since the lengha, which she borrowed from her sister-in-law, was so heavy. According to Bajwa, Pakistani brides tend to have their outfits custom-made, which usually costs around a thousand dollars. According to one member of the PSA, who introduced parts of the event, Pakistani weddings are a “religiously sanctioned social contract.” The person conducting the ceremony must ask the groom is he accepts the terms of the social contract; he must stay “I accept three times.” The bride must do the same, although if she is shy, clear nonverbal consent is fine. A sangeet, or singing session performed by families of the husband and wife-to-be, followed Bajwa’s entrance. Afterwards came the nikkah, which is the actual wedding ceremony that legally makes the bride and groom husband and wife. Performances by the Cornell Bhangra team followed, which were the highlight of the night, energizing the enthusiastic the crowd. Both Hasan and Bajwa said it was their favorite part of the event. “People here have an expectation of Bhangra, they expect it to be that good,” said freshman Shawn Jolly ’08, a member of Cornell Bhangra. “When the crowd yells, it’s exciting — we just feed off the crowd.” Jolly said that the dance they performed had won the Cornell team first place in the Bhangra Blizzard competition in Buffalo last weekend. “This [representation of Pakistani weddings] is pretty good, and it’s very accurate — especially the way everyone’s pushing in line for food,” said Shaan Qamar ’08, who laughed as he gestured towards the lengthy line for food catered by Diamond’s Cuisine. Although one of the main reasons he came to the event was to see the Bhangra performance, he was also interested to see how Cornell would represent Pakistani culture. Qamar has attended many Pakistani weddings, usually those of relatives. “They’re kind of long, but once in awhile, I don’t mind going,” Qamar continued. “Dinners are pretty long, and there’s the nikkah, the mehndi and then it eventually comes down to the shaadi [wedding ceremony]. The whole process is exhausting … but tonight this is very accurate in terms of the food, the music and the atmosphere.” Adnan Malik, who is curator of the South Asian collection in Kroch Library and advisor for the PSA, also agreed that the representation of Pakistani weddings was accurate. “I really had a good time because I think they put up a good show. It’s a very telescopic version, of course, but they do catch the spirit, which is important,” Malik said. Maki Ueyama grad has a husband who is from Madras, India, where they had their wedding. She enjoyed comparing her own wedding experiences to the mock wedding in Willard Straight.”This one is very different,” said Ueyama, gesturing towards the bride and groom sitting on the stage. “The music is different, the instruments are different. Our own wedding had a lot of trumpets. I wore a sari, but this bride is wearing a lengha. And the type of dance we just saw [Bhangra] was aggressive, strong and energetic.” Ueyama noted that dancing at her own wedding was not. “I love this, though, I’m looking forward to doing mehndi,” she said. Ueyama had mehndi — a henna leaf paste applied to the hands and feet — done for her own wedding. Students lined up later in the night to have their hands decorated with mendhi, including Su Cho ’08, a first-timer. Not only was Cho pleased with the mehndi artist, but also with the Bhangra performance. “I really liked the dances, they were just awesome, you could tell that they were so into it and practiced a lot,” she said. The atmosphere became much more informal after dinner when rasams, or traditional wedding games, were played. After several more dance performances, the floor was open for everyone to dance. Members of the Bhangra team, still dressed in their white, blue and gold costumes, also joined in. Malkana even brought out his drum to get more people on the dance floor. “I think just seeing over 300 people here all enjoying this is what made my night,” Malkana said. “It’s a great success. I think everyone’s happy, and I think it worked out very well. We [the PSA] try to show the Cornell community a country that they don’t know much about — we want to show them our culture and how we are as a people. We don’t think that the Cornell community knows enough about Pakistan.” Malkana added that many stereotypes of Pakistan still exist. “I think the community only hears about Pakistan through the Fox nightly news; we’re only known as an instrument in the war against terrorism. We needed to show them that there’s a people behind the nation, that it’s a very vibrant nation.” Archived article by MAYA RAOSun Staff Writer