February 28, 2012

Your Personal Guide to Trustee Weekend

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A week from today, the Cornell trustees will make one of their three annual trips to Ithaca to discuss the future of Cornell, but no one will be surprised if you have not noticed their past trips. The Board’s presence on campus can be rather inconspicuous to students — unless you spend all of your time in the Statler Hotel. Sadly, university boards generally do not involve the students they oversee.The Cornell Board has traditionally been more receptive than most universities. Yet lately, the Cornell trustees have been clamoring for even more input from the student body. Back in January, The Sun ran a guest piece by Trustee Andrew Tisch, describing a new commitment to reaching out to students. This commitment is being fulfilled this weekend, by putting students front and center in a way that no recent trustee weekend has. Students will be involved in meetings every day, be recognized for their work and give insight into student life on campus.The first event is on Wednesday night, where 13 student leaders — both grads and undergrads — will be sharing desserts with the Trustees. The event is supposed to be an informal session where students can meet the trustees of the school and share ideas on how to improve it. Other than being told about the event, the students have not been prompted in any way by the administration. They will be free to discuss whatever concerns are on their mind, ranging from financial aid to the DREAM Act to the lack of Cornell Dairy Barn ice cream at a dessert session.On Thursday, there will be a 40-minute panel in front of the Student Life and Academic Affairs Committees featuring four students — Dan Rubin ’15, Niajee Washington ’13, Keir Ross ’12 and Sara Rahman ’12. The panelists will be discussing the academic life of students both inside and outside the classroom. In other words, they will be talking about anything and everything that concerns students. The panel will serve as a venue for putting student concerns on the agenda, and I’ll be taking suggestions for discussion topics.Thursday night will feature two events for students. First, Provost Kent Fuchs will be hosting a celebration of the new CornellNYC Tech campus and the many Cornellians — including students — who helped Cornell win. Students passed resolutions in support of the project, helped structure the proposal and publicized Cornell’s bid. Students will continue to be an integral part of developing the new campus, and this dinner is meant to recognize those contributions. Afterward, the leadership of the board will meet with the Senior Class campaign to thank them for the work they have already done and will continue to do.Friday morning will be either the most exciting or most dull part of the weekend, depending on your tolerance for 9 a.m. meetings. The full Board will be hosting an open session for about 20 minutes, featuring reports from President Skorton, Student Assembly President Natalie Raps ’12 and Graduate and Professional Student Assembly President Evan Cortens grad.This growing student presence is not an accident. The trustees want to hear from students, because we can tell them what is happening at Cornell in a way that spreadsheets and graphs cannot. But with this much opportunity to talk with trustees comes the responsibility to use the time wisely. If you are one of the many students who are involved next week, make sure you tell the trustees exactly how you feel. Do not sugarcoat your answers, even if you are speaking over dessert. Of course, tell them the things you love about Cornell too, but do not be afraid to criticize. Cornellians love a healthy debate, whether they are students or trustees.If you are a student who is not coming to any of the meetings, you still can and should make your voice heard. Reach out to any student who is attending (including me), and let them know what you would want improved. Ultimately, the Board’s job is to make Cornell as good as it can be for everyone on campus. It is up to you to make sure that when they leave Ithaca next Friday, they know exactly how to do that.

Alex Bores is the undergraduate student-elected trustee and a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at awb78@cornell.edu. Trustee Viewpoint appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.

Original Author: Alex Bores

  • cornell14

    it might be helpful for the sun to interview other students, other than the ones who manage multicultural orgs. there are POC literally everywhere on campus, we arent hard to find, and i guarantee you we may have differing opinions. we arent a homogenous group.

  • pheasantries

    Kathy Zoner you are literally the dumbest shit ever. I guess that racist isn’t really a racist, its just on Halloween when they’re racist costume magically brings out a different side of them. Yeah if we just respect each other racism will go away. Most of these racists think they are respecting people by “appreciating” their culture.

  • Emily Larimer

    I find this article funny for a multitude of reasons. First, the fact that the Sun posted multiple facebook statuses asking kids to email the editor if they saw an offensive costume shows that this was a manufactured story to some extent and that the organic “outrage” was just people emailing their opinions. Second, I love how the one time the opposite side of the argument is presented is from a conservative blog that uses raunchy language and all caps, showing that the writer of this article hasn’t even attempted to find an opposing argument. There are plenty of students who aren’t outraged who I’m sure could give an eloquent quote. But the Sun wasn’t interested in their opinions.

    • Phew

      At Loco’s last night, a guy in a sombrero and poncho with brown facepaint won a costume contest run by the radio station z95.5 the announcer called the costume ‘dirty mexican’ and he won $50 bucks for funniest costume. Please tell us more about how you think these stories are manufactured.

    • Reader

      I agree that a greater variety of arguments would’ve enhanced this article

  • Alex Davies

    I went to an international school and for halloween, a friend from Jordan and I dressed up as a Hasidic Jew and a Middle Eastern dictator. Maybe that was an especially open place, but considering that no one was offended (most people found it very amusing) and we had people from Syria, Morocco, and Lebanon, and Israelis, I sometimes find it hard to comprehend how offended people can get at a costume. Me dressing up as a dictator does not mean, implicitly or explicitly, that I condone the actions of someone like Bashar Al-Assad or Muammar Qaddafi. Yes, some costume choices may be misguided, but only very rarely do people have any malicious intent behind them.

    • Phew

      So amusing.

      • camel jockey

        That Arab is too baby-faced. The guy needs to grow some hair in his nostrils.

    • Reader

      While I am not a Hasidic Jew, I grew up next door to a predominantly Hasidic Jewi neighborhood and had several friends who were Hasidic Jews. To be honest, I would’ve found your costume offensive, even if you didn’t wear it with malicious intent. What Hasidic Jews wear is often a part of their culture, so dressing up as one for Halloween, to me, underscores the role clothing plays in their culture. Out of curiosity, why didn’t you find it offensive?

  • CU Alumnus 11

    Racist Halloween costumes and other one-off experiences aside, I disagree that cultural appropriation is always wrong and it’s too bad the Sun and the author relay it so.

    There’s little explanation of the term; only a simple association between costume-wearing and appropriation (of which it is a regrettable form) and the simpler message “appropriation is BAD.” Anyone who is unfamiliar with this discourse is left thinking cultural appropriation is always wrong and many more will be left believing the term applies only to costume-wearing, which is a terrible outcome. I believe the author knows its a much larger issue, but hasn’t advanced her cause and hasn’t educated anyone well, given the opportunity.

    Individuals who seek to immerse themselves in other cultures aren’t always doing it for personal satisfaction or fad. a la Halloween. Rather, many respectful (see: respectable) individuals do it to learn, because they’re curious, or because they’re seeking to better themselves or their life in some way. Clearly, this requires time and understanding which cannot be achieved on one day, be it Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day or alike. It may be a privilege to adopt or ‘appropriate’ some aspect of another culture, something to treat delicately, but it is not blatantly wrong, like many other things, if it’s treated perceptively with respect to people for whom it is norm.

    The author is right about racist Halloween costumes, but I’m worried advocates of U.S. cultural minorities will take the next step and ostracize any white American who attempts to adopt some aspect of their culture, whether misguided or appropriate, even when earnest and respectful.

    I’d be more excited if advocates of the issue did more to seek empathy and empathize, more to educate. In any case, if you want to advance your cause, you must do more. It’s easy to express a genuine feeling (hurt, outrage, distress, annoyance), but that alone doesn’t advance the conversation.

  • Guest

    My friends dressing in kimonos means “they convey the message that their culture is superior [to Japanese people’s]”??? That’s completely ridiculous. Did you consider that they may actually be very interested in other cultures and are actually praising it? If I dress up as Bill Nye, am I really mocking him? When my friends and I decide on a last minute costume idea by picking up 99 cent sombreros, are we choosing to make a political statement that Mexicans are inferior to us, or are we just trying to dress up for a silly holiday?

    Why must the Sun continue having front page stories that do nothing but let some fringe extremists repeat inane accusations of oppression? This is not reporting. As other comments mentioned, you basically didn’t get any opinions from either moderate students or those who fiercely reject the idea of dressing up being offensive. And the one such quote was buried in the article long after most people saw the headline or stopped reading the first few paragraphs, which usually should summarize what’s going on. And that’s all assuming that this is even something that deserves an article. Since when is it news that a handful of students are complaining about being offended?

  • Cephas33

    My former colleagues need to toughen up their courses. These students have far too much time on their hands.

  • cornell’11

    “When students wear costumes centered around a particular cultural group, they convey the message that their culture is superior to the former’s”
    This quote is RIDICULOUS. So according to cultural hypersensitive extremists, no one is ever allowed to wear ethnic clothing unless it actually belongs to their ethnicity? “Oh, you’re from Turkey? Oh, then take off that american football helmet. We find that offensive if you’re not actually playing football.”

    “It’s not okay to take parts in the fun parts of Mexican culture, for example, and not know more about all of the hardships that Mexican Americans and Mexicans face”

    This quote is likewise, RIDICULOUS. On Independence Day, should we ban people from enjoying grills or watching fireworks if they’re unaware of the significance of the holiday? Should we ban people from celebrating Easter if they didn’t fast for Lent? No – if you want people to learn about something, take the time to explain it. If people are interested, great! If they’re not, why does it matter? If you don’t care about some war that happened 250 years ago, I’m not going to refuse giving you delicious, heart attack-inducing food.

    I’m a member of a minority myself, and I see all of this as overly-sensitive people looking for something to complain about. Do some of these costumes cross the line? Of course. But instead of whining, don’t give these morons any publicity. And don’t hire them or vote them into public office.

    And I agree with all of the other comments accusing the Sun of poor journalism.

  • camel jockey

    Chest cold diamonds make a beardie wanna cough
    In Dubai 20 million on a villa loft
    And then I step up in the club then these other beardies mad as pigs
    The way I make the people wanna sing the hook in Arabic

    La ilaha illa Allah, ha la ili, hay yo
    Hili b’Allah, hey, hili bay yo

  • CU Nooz