February 5, 2013

Big Red Ambition #72: (Learn About) Taking Over a Building (in AMST 2001)

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Well, I’m a second semester senior, and while I try not to get all nostalgic about my dwindling amount of time here on the Hill, I think it’s time we all talk about #72 (take over a building). No, I’m not planning on taking over Willard Straight –– that is so last century. I’m talking about learning about the Willard Straight Takeover of 1969, and since I don’t foresee any building takeovers in the coming weeks (meaning very few, if any, of us are going to check off #72 in its truest form), let’s alter it a bit, and make #72: Take AMST 2001: The First American University.

Let’s get real for a second, party people. We Cornellians are a bit of a cult. Our parents met here, our siblings went here and our children will go here. Though that’s not true for all of us, a weirdly large amount of Cornellians have “Big Red Blood” (as my family so eloquently calls it). There’s something about Cornell that draws us in. I mean, why else would we literally trek to class in the snow uphill both ways (#152)? We love this place –– heck, we’re obsessed with this place –– and who better to teach a class that covers pretty much anything you would want to know about this place than Corey Ryan Earle ’07?

You know the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding? He’s obsessed with Greece and claims to be able to tell you the Greek root of any word. Substitute Greece for Cornell and (drumroll, please) you have Lecturer Earle! He graduated in 2007 and his dad is a professor at Cornell. He epitomizes the word “Cornellian” in every way possible and knows pretty much everything there is to know about Cornell and Cornell pop culture references. Well … not every reference. He didn’t know that Leo McGarry’s sister in The West Wing, had gotten a Ph.D. in education from Cornell, but that’s what I’m here for: to educate the masses.

In all seriousness, we come to the middle of freaking nowhere to spend four years of our lives in one of the most challenging academic environments imaginable (can you say easiest to get in, hardest to stay in?).

I can’t help but laugh when I say that, because even with everything seemingly stacked against us, we, and I, (somehow) truly love it here. And let me tell you this: after three weeks in AMST 2001, I love it even more.

It’s kind of (read: really) cool knowing why Cornell is in Ithaca. White wanted it in Syracuse, but Cornell had been robbed twice in Syracuse –– scarring memories.

Do you know why are colors are red and white? I do. At the inauguration ceremony for the University in October 1868, there were two signs opposite each other that were red with white lettering: Cornell and White (Cornell and White were co-founders). Since white is an actual color, and Cornell sounds like carnelian, which is a reddish color, voila: red and white as our official University colors!

Moving on a bit, I’m sure lots of you have seen the video Alumni Affairs made of our lovely walk to class up the slope in the midst of a lovely snowstorm. If not, watch it now. Clearly our hike up the Slope sucks, but I’m a big Monty Python fan and I’ve learned to “always look on the bright side of life.” After a few weeks in AMST 2001, I can say with authority that, compared to those who came before us on the Hill, we are living in the lap of luxury. Back in the day, students would have to carry the stones to build McGraw Hall up the Slope (the quarry was at the bottom of the slope). I don’t know about you, but I’ll take some ice over stones from the quarry all day errday.

We all come to Cornell to learn a lot, to (hopefully) have some fun and to get good jobs and grad school acceptances. Sometimes, though, it’s important to take an hour a week to take a really cool class and to learn a bit more about the place that has given all of us a lot of reasons to say, “Thank You Cornell” (#SeniorClassCampaign2013).

And on that note, let me leave you with my favorite quote ever said about Ithaca, by the one and only Goldwin Smith, “There seem to be a great number of waterfalls which I abhor.”

Oh, and Ezra Cornell came to class on Monday. No joke, he’s aliiiiive … well, at least his great great great grandson is!

Original Author: Jaime Freilich

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