Derek Burrows '03 is reaching beyond the boundaries of the Cornell campus this semester by running for a seat the Tompkins County Board of Representatives.
The election will take place on Nov. 6. Nancy Schuler, a member of the Tompkins County Board of Representatives for 12 years, is Burrows' opponent.
"I am running because I want college kids to have solid representation on the Board," Burrows explained.
A member of the Collegetown Independent Party, Burrows wants to improve quality of life for people living in District 4 of the City of Ithaca, which encompasses West Campus and Collegetown.
Burrows' main concern is Tompkins County's growing budget.
"The budget has been expanding at an exponential rate over the last three years," he said. "This leads to increases in student rent."
Burrows hopes to protect student rent prices by assuming fiscal responsibility and capping the budget.
"I want to prevent the [rumored] one percent increase in sales tax," Burrows said. "I'm for less taxes."
Current seat holder Schuler is concerned with quality of life issues such as transportation, human services and consumer protection, according to her website. Schuler could not be reached for comment.
These issues are of importance to Burrows as well, but he feels that because "Nancy Schuler lives outside the district and I live with college students, I am more in touch with the district's constituents. Students can approach me, call me or e-mail me with their concerns."
Should he win the election, Burrows pledges to live in Ithaca for the full duration of his 4-year term. Although he is an operations research major in the College of Engineering, and has no prior experience in politics, he plans to remain involved in the political scene after he graduates.
Although Burrows thinks he "definitely can win," the campaign got off to a rocky start. Due to invalid signatures on his nominating petitions, it took him two attempts to earn a spot on the ballot. Now, his remaining obstacle is getting students to vote.
"I'm going to kick off my campaign with a registration drive," he said. "I will be [signing students up] at Ho Plaza, Noyes Community Center, or convenience stores in Collegetown."
Students running for positions in Ithaca's government is not unprecedented. In 1999, Green party candidate Josh Glasstetter '01 defeated Jane V. Pedersen, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, for the position of alderman for the city's Common Council. Students make up 90 percent of the voters in his district, Ward 4.
Two other students running for positions on the Common Council that year, however, did not fare as well, losing to their opponents.
Burrows noted that the adult members of the Board seemed receptive to working with a student. Many of Burrows' peers support his efforts as well.
"Cornell students are not just part of the Cornell community, but part of the Ithaca community as well and have just as much right to speak their minds as any other citizen," said Sarah Bender '04.
Burrows hopes that in case of a victory, his seat would remain occupied by a student in the future.
"Student involvement in politics is a huge issue to me. Our generation has been accused of apathy and disinterest for as long as I can remember. This is a way to show the critics that we do care, and that we do want to be involved," Burrows said.
Archived article by Rachel Einschlag
Updated Sunday at 3:30 p.m. with additional information
One student is left with serious injuries following an early Sunday morning vehicle crash into Rand Hall, according to the Cornell University Police Department.
Authorities responded to a report of a single vehicle crashing into Rand Hall at approximately 1:40 a.m. Sunday. Police say they believe that the vehicle, a silver-colored sedan, was traveling northbound on East Avenue when the driver missed the curve north of Lincoln Hall, left the road and crashed into the south wall of Rand Hall.
The driver and one passenger of the vehicle were both freshmen at Cornell, according to an email sent to students from Prof. Kent Kleinman, dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.
The driver, who sustained serious injuries, was transported by ambulance to a regional medical center and remains in stable condition, according to police. The passenger, who was evaluated on the scene by Cornell Emergency Medical Services and Bangs Ambulance and initially declined transport to the hospital, was later treated for minor injuries.
None of the 15 people inside Rand Hall or pedestrians in the area at the time of the crash were hurt.
Cornell Police, the Ithaca Police Department, Cornell Environmental Health and Safety, Cornell EMS, Bangs Ambulance, the Ithaca Fire Department and New York State Police responded to the accident.
Workers were on the scene hours after the crash, surveying the extent of the damage to Rand Hall. (Annie Bui / Sun Managing Editor)
A single vehicle carrying two people crashed into the south wall of Rand Hall early Sunday morning. (Annie Bui / Sun Managing Editor)
Rand Hall is open “with limited access to the east end of the first floor,” according to police. Workers and authorities were present at the scene hours after the crash, evaluating the extent of the damage.
According to Kleinman, an inspection of the building found no structural damage nor any danger from falling debris.
“The Rand shop will maintain standard operating hours and should be fully functional except that the affected area will be cordoned off with yellow tape,” he said.
Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, extended his support and caring to the students involved in the accident, their friends and family on behalf of the Cornell community.
“I hope that the students who were in Rand Hall and any other individuals who may have been affected by the accident will consider the services listed below, which are available always, for all of us,” he said.
An investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing, and authorities are seeking further information from witnesses.
University Resources: Members of the Cornell community seeking support can call Gannett Health Services’ Counseling and Psychological Services (607-255-5155), EARS’ peer counselors (607-255-3277), the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (607-255-2673) or find additional resources at caringcommunity.cornell.edu.