December 1, 2015

Letter to the Editor: A Change for the Worse

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The following is an open letter to Cornell University:

It is more than distressing to see Cornell students and the new administration caving in to mob demands for “safe spaces” and against “microaggressions,” for “trigger warnings,” labeling of others as haters, bigots and racists for daring to have opposite view opinions, shutting down discussions of ideas, amorphous demands to enhance cultural sensitivity training in the name of promoting identity politics — all at the expense of the true mission of the university: to reaffirm the Liberal ideals of academic freedom and individual liberty that are the hallmarks of a true education. The chickens have clearly come home to roost in this stew of left-liberal academia. We are now raising a generation of coddled, narcissistic, self-absorbed, thin-skinned young people, permanent “victims,” who will be ill-equipped to function effectively in the real world outside the shelter of the academy. Cornell’s reputation as a lodestar of diversity is in danger of becoming a joke. Is Cornell now to become a daycare center? These students have no real idea what their predecessors 40 years ago endured, real life oppression and racism which tore at the fabric of this country, which they successfully fought. Are things here now perfect? No, vast improvements have been made to enable today’s students to thrive, and we are far better than we ever were. Get over it, get back to your books and study and become the respectable leaders of this greatest nation that we expect you to be.

Lee Bender ’84

  • Seconded. Excellent letter and way too true

    • DLC

      I believe that Mr. Bender’s letter is completely and totally accurate. This non-productive cancer of victimization is infecting numerous college campuses and does nothing to advance a liberal education.

      The complaint that minority students are “surrounded by whiteness” is especially rich; if you are a minority then you would be “surrounded” by the majority population. If an Asian were in Zambia, they would be “surrounded by blackness”.

      Young people who are privileged enough to attend Cornell (via affirmative action or on merit) should take advantage of the opportunities provided and do their best to be productive members of society and role models for others.

  • KM ’15

    So because people had it worse, we shouldn’t demand better conditions? Do you think Rosa Parks should have told herself, “Well at least I’m not a slave?” What kind of complacency is that?

    We are exercising our constitutionally protected rights at an institution where we pay over $70,000 a year to attend. I don’t know what post-racial utopia you’re living in, but please let us know where it is located.

    • Um

      You’re not Rosa Parks and no one pays “over $70,000” a year to attend Cornell.

    • George

      Most American universities are post racial utopias. Where else can racial groups make absurd demands for racial preferences and have those demands granted? Where else do less deserving minorities get admitted on a weak diversity rationale and then refuse to assimilate? Where else does an institution spend millions of dollars to create ethnic studies majors that have no utility in the outside world? It is not getting any better for you than right now.

  • Kayla

    Sounds more like the arrogant author has things to get over

  • MA ’15

    Though the language is a bit harsh, I (and I’m sure many other Cornell students) totally agree. This whole “movement” has gotten so out of hand that it’s essentially backfiring on itself, with a very outspoken, very extreme minority of the student body aggressively attacking any opinion that even slightly deviates from them. Political correctness should not be used as a guise to restrict free speech and silence any opinion that offends you (i.e. renaming the PLANTations — it’s just not realistic). That being said, I am totally in favor of moderate, budget-friendly initiatives aimed at creating a more inclusive campus environment.

    You chose to come to Cornell. Be thankful for all the great things the administration does to foster diversity and create a “safe space.” Don’t like it? No one’s forcing you to stay here.

    • Recent Alum ’15

      We rename buildings/institutions/places all the time without much push back. It’s not unrealistic. It’s only when it’s challenging white supremacy do folks suddenly become preservationists. See this point expanded here:

      Also, I find it incredibly disconcerting that you are encouraging folks of color to leave the university. They’re already being pushed out because the campus is not a safe environment for them, despite all the “great things the administration does to foster diversity and create a ‘safe space'” that you say they should be “grateful for”. The way you use gratitude is silencing these dissenting students of color. Gratitude should not mean acquiescence to the status quo, which by the way is not at all satisfactory by any measure.

      A significant proportion of the diversity work and labor on campus is done by students themselves; this is unpaid labor that comes at the cost of time, personal and mental health and at times, their academic work. Why do they do this? Because an unsafe campus for them and other students of color is already affecting their academic work negatively. These students are asking that the administration (and the board of trustees) who make policies at the University do more to support these students. In a HWCU (historically white college or university) like Cornell, people of color are surrounded by whiteness historically, demographically, ecologically, curricularly and symbolically. This space was not meant for students of color (even if Cornell was progressive in being integrated as soon as it opened). If we want to be accountable and live up to the vision of “any person, any study”, “moderate, budget-friendly initiatives” will not cut it. We end up making diversity “task forces” that get stuck in the bureaucracy for years without any meaningful changes. It’s time we do something more substantial and transformative. We just need the courage and the political will to do so. I’m hopeful that student grassroots social movements will help make that happen. I also believe critiques are important in order to build and grow this movement, but it must come from a place of sincerity, honesty, and empathy with an antiracist posture that doesn’t invalidate the experiences of students (as this paragraph from Lee Bender does).

      • Show me an example of a black student being pushed out of Cornell because the campus wasn’t a “safe environment” for him.

        On the other hand, I’ll show you some suicides and negligent homicides that relate to Cornell. But those involve people of all races and backgrounds.

        But please, tell me how Cornell is actively oppressing students of color. And be specific about it.

        • Recent Alum ’15

          Have you not been listening to these students? The coverage, of course, does not capture the totality of these experiences (granted it’s hard to do so), but if you were (pro)actively listening while you were on campus, you would know hear how Cornell (which is not unique by the way in suffering from this) reproduces the systems of oppression that are endemic (and in some cases foundational) to American society against people of color. You would also be aware of the institutional racism at Cornell (again not a unique challenge to Cornell). If you want “specific” examples on this, read the Campus Climate Study done in 2014:

          Also, to your point of race having no bearing on suicides at Cornell, read the Asian/Asian American Studies Campus Climate Task Force Report from 2003/04 (created in part because over 50% of completed suicides between 1996-2002 were done by Asian/Asian American students!):

          Get back to me when you’ve done the reading so an informed discussion take place.
          Edit: I can actually imagine how easy it is to go through 4 years of Cornell being ignorant of all of this. So I apologize if I laid the blame entirely as your own fault.

        • Joseph
          • N. McEwen

            You seriously think that article described any black student being pushed out of Cornell because it was not a “safe environment”? Really? Because what I read was a dorm described as a “cell block” and a girl saying she was described as a “diversity hire”. I think I lived in a dorm like that. And maybe she is a “diversity hire”. I would think that when a bus load of inner city kids (her description) comes to Cornell for the tour the Admissions Office wants black tour guides to show kids around in order to make the point that they are welcome at Cornell.

        • WJ ’14

          This should also help in proving the point that the campus is not as safe and utopian as you might think. I personally know the student that these remarks were directed towards along with other instances where derogatory comments were made. These things wouldn’t happen if the campus was truly “safe.” Although not physical, comments like these can leave long-lasting scars.

        • Recent Alum ’15

          Have you not been listening to these students? The coverage, of course, does not capture the totality of these experiences (granted it’s hard to do so), but if you were (pro)actively listening while you were on campus, you would hear how Cornell (which is not unique by the way in suffering from this) reproduces the systems of oppression against people of color that are endemic, and in some cases foundational, (think genocide of native americans and enslavement of black folks) to American society. You would also be aware of the institutional racism at Cornell (again not a unique challenge to Cornell). If you want “specific” examples on this, read the Campus Climate Study done in 2014:

          Also, to your point of race having no bearing on suicides at Cornell, read the Asian/Asian American Campus Climate Task Force Report from 2003/04 (created in part because over 50% of completed suicides between 1996-2002 were done by Asian/Asian American students!):

          Get back to me when you’ve done the reading so an informed discussion take place.
          Edit: I can actually imagine how easy it is to go through 4 years of Cornell being ignorant of all of this. So I apologize if I laid the blame entirely as your own fault.

        • Cornell Junior
      • Steven

        This is the insanity that needs to stop. “Surrounded by whiteness”? No shit, America is a predominately white country. Get over it. If its so oppressive why don’t you go back to your country of origin so that you can be surrounded by people that look like you all the time. You won’t though because the very system you hate is the one that has provided for you a standard or living and education unheard of in human history.

        I’m a Hispanic myself and it’s never bothered me that I was usually the only or one of very few people of color in a classroom or that my culture wasn’t constantly brought up. I was just thankful to be given the opportunity to be given a great education. Thankful that this country allowed for my family to come here over 50 years ago. That is a privilege.

        One does not have superior virtue just by being an ethnic minority. If the tables were reversed, would it bother you that white voices aren’t heard? Of course it wouldn’t because the reality behind this movement is that it is a protest against the white majority just for being the majority in the very country they founded. When in Rome do as the Romans do not when in Rome tell the Romans what to do.

        If you feel forced out by the university environment, it is probably because you willingly segregate yourself and claim victim hood as mean to cover for your own failings. It would probably be best if you did leave though. We have enough losers in this society as it is.

        • Joseph

          Boy sure would be nice if we could go back our country of origin nice and peacefully, just like our ancestors came over here…

          Would it bother us that white voices aren’t heard? Are you kidding? When have white voices ever been silenced? And talking about the history of America? HAHAHA Everyone except native populations literally came here to escape something, not to “do as the Romans do.” They came in, took what they wanted, and held everyone else down. Just as they have continued to do since our foundation.

          What else cracks me up is all of this talk of failure as though students are somehow incapable of maintaining their grades AND being social activists. I’m disgusted that someday soon I will have to claim that you and I came from the same institutions.

          • George

            Joseph- Do you honestly believe that anyone would be proud to call you their classmate?

      • George

        You are delusional.

      • MA ’15

        @Recent Alum ’15:

        1. I never encouraged PoC to leave the university. I simply said if you believe that Cornell is so egregiously violating your “safety” — for whatever reason — then you can leave. Simple as that. But you won’t because Cornell happens to be more “safe” and more sensitive to the needs of people from historically oppressed/underprivileged backgrounds than 99% of the country. Cornell is pretty much as safe of a space as there is for us (I say this because I happen to be a person of color myself…it’s ironic how you were so quick to assume that I wasn’t).

        2. If the University were to rename a building, it sets a dangerous precedent for making trivial changes. It makes sense that they would stand their ground and not give into every little demand. The real world/post-graduate life does not offer several of the opportunities you have at Cornell, so, yeah, be grateful for that. I know I am.

        3. Like I said, I’m in favor of realistic, non-radical changes. It’s also hypocritical that certain groups of minority students claim to represent the opinions of all students of color. Really, all that you’re doing is silencing the voices of less extreme PoC — the very type of thing that you’re trying to prevent. You’re establishing an unnecessary hierarchy in the voices of students of color, the very type of hierarchy that you seem so passionate in eliminating.

        4. Finally, it’s important to point out the hypocrisy of students of color who come to Cornell and refuse to associate with anyone of a different race or background. This is exacerbated by the existence of program (racial) housing. I happen to have friends from all sorts of racial and economic backgrounds, and it makes me disappointed when I see other students who refuse to make friends outside their “group.”
        This sort of self-imposed homogeneity is the very type of thing that is detrimental to the diversity that you’re striving for.

      • BB

        Thank you, Recent Alum! Well said

  • George

    Delusional comment is directed at Recent Alum’15

  • Brycen

    The most distressing part of this entire email is his false view that America is the greatest nation. On top of that, he seems to believe that we (PoC) at Cornell, actually care what he expects of us. In my opinion, he expects that we will continue to allow maltreatment and being oppressed by systems in society. And simply because many PoC were in a worse situation 40 years ago, it doesn’t make what’s currently happening in society okay. If someone gets an arm chopped off, you don’t simply tell them that others in their position had been killed.

    Author, please get over yourself.

    • George

      Brycen- The better advice is for you to get over yourself. In the scheme of things, you are not very important.

      • Joseph

        Especially if he’s a PoC, right?

        • George

          I don’t view any particular cohort of students as very important. They come and go. Many complain that the school does not sufficiently kiss their ass. Many contribute nothing but demand much.

          • Joseph

            Hell I don’t even understand why PoC even get to sit in classrooms. We admitted them right? Why give them desks too aren’t they happy just to hear the words? Or put them outside, they’re still on campus. Give an inch they take a mile.

    • If it’s not the greatest nation, then why are you here? Take the money you’re using for an education at a racist/unsafe/bigoted school in an unsafe/racist/bigoted country, buy a plane ticket, and go somewhere else.

      You will not do this. Why not? Because you actually are probably smart enough to realize that your greatest chance at success is in THIS country.

      The most distressing part of your post is that you expect that anyone in the real world actually cares what you think of it.

      As to your last point, yeah, that is what you tell the person who got his arm chopped off. Sure, it sucks. It’s awful. But at least he gets to see his kids or his family. At least he gets to live life. It’s all about perspective.

      • Joseph

        Have you ever looked into what it takes to leave the country? How long you have to wait to get approved and how much it costs? It’s not that easy. Trust, a lot of people would love to live somewhere else, but since we can’t get away, we fight for change here. If you don’t like the direction that Cornell is moving, why don’t you leave Cornell related news? No one is making you keep up with the times.

        • Travis Cuvelier

          Actually, the Unites States doesn’t have exit visas. The only people you have to wait for are in other countries.

          • Joseph

            Right, you have to wait to be approved. Sorry I should have specified by whom, I just meant you can’t buy a ticket and start a new life as easily as some would have you think.

        • Because Cornell is part of what defines me in the professional world. It’s on my bio. It’s on my resume. It comes up in interviews. It comes up with clients. I give money to the school. It’s important the school does not become an embarrassment. It’s even more important that the students it produces are not embarrassments.

          I’m just wondering why anyone who doesn’t think America is the greatest nation would not want to go to the nation that is. Sure you might not be able to tomorrow. But I have plenty of friends that go to school in other countries. I know plenty of people who have moved to other countries for work. Why waste 200,000+ on an institution that is so terrible?

          • BB

            Abe, you had me with your first paragraph, then dropped me with a thud. To me it’s an embarrassment that in the year 2015 any group of students would not feel completely welcome at Cornell. And it’s an embarrassment that some Cornell alums commenting here are so ignorant about systemic racism.

          • Brycen

            Because this nation is paying for my education. And no where in my post does it show anything that would allow you to assume that I believe that “people in the real world actually care” about what I think. And if you decide to tell that to someone who had their arm chopped off you are simply not an empathetic person. If people had empathy a majority of the societal issues around the globe wouldn’t be occurring.

  • Jack

    I would agree with the letter as another alumnus (and minority). How much “safe space” do we need at Cornell? Don’t people at Cornell remember the program houses like Ujamaa and the Multicultural Living Center (which are optional)? Doesn’t the College of Arts and Sciences require a geographical breadth course that does not include the US, Canada, and Europe? When is it enough?

    • Brycen

      Well I’m in the Hotel School so I don’t know of the requirements you speak of. I just know that the opinions of former students who aren’t actually living (not just visiting every once in a while) here don’t mean that much to me. Speak to your own experiences, don’t tell me what I should think about mine.

      • Bill

        So Brycen, you never heard of Ujamaa?

        • Brycen

          I have heard of Ujamaa. Unfortunately, as students we have to travel around campus to attend classes (which is why we come here in the first place) so I don’t think staying in Ujamaa at all times is even possible.

      • Zion

        You’re saying, “Your experience don’t matter to me?” I’ve experienced enough (direct) discrimination on campus. Would my experience not matter to you?

        • Brycen

          If you read my posts you notice that I’m only speaking about current times. If you aren’t on campus now then your opinions about what students are currently doing aren’t something I’ll really consider (especially when I compare them to the experiences I’ve had this year or that other current students have had). The implication in my posts is that those who are criticizing what students are currently doing should probably be here in the now.

          • Zion

            So the implication is that in 5+ years from now, your experience today won’t matter then. Likewise, my experience nor the experience of others like me won’t matter at all. I guess some people can live with that.

          • Brycen

            No – it’s not that it doesn’t matter at all. It’s that I wouldn’t utilize those experiences from 5+ years ago when hundreds of experiences are available for me to choose from with people that are currently living in it. In 5+ years, I hope that the University wouldn’t listen to my voice over the voices of those future students when it comes to issues that actually impact them on a daily basis. Times change and things evolve, something that has been extremely clear to people on campus.

            For instance – the life for a Freshman was very different when I first got to campus. Many frats were still on campus, and freshmen were able to travel in packs from North to West to attend open parties in official Greek houses. Today, that isn’t an option for students. That eliminates some of the access that some students have. Now would you utilize the opinions of students from 5+ years ago when discussing the social climate on campus? No – because their experiences aren’t the same as what those on campus experience now.

        • Debra

          I can understand that the context is within the realm of campus politics, but I find your logic to be faulty. If you only apply this logic only to campus politics, but nowhere else, then you are basically a hypocrite. Nothing wrong with being a hypocrite though. If I were you and I’m a hiring manager, I might as well hire people randomly, because their experiences won’t matter to me at all. Also, we could simply ignore someone who fought for our rights like MLK, because he’s basically dead and doesn’t know what my experience nor other person of color experiences today.
          Wouldn’t you agree?

          • Brycen

            No – you’re talking about the equivalent to admissions practices when you bring up the hiring manager example. I’m saying that I wouldn’t utilize the inputs of former employees when I could go to our current employees and ask them about their experiences; even further, if our current employees described certain things as a problem and they wanted to change them, I wouldn’t go and say “well our former employees think you’re being ‘thin-skinned’.”

  • Nate Brown ’04

    I was the editor of the Sun a decade ago, and Lee Bender ’84 was writing riled letters back then, too. Back in aughts, he wrote us objecting to the use of the name “Palestine.”

    Today, he’s decrying students of color who’d like to have full social, civic, and academic parity, and he builds a straw man by conflating the desire for parity with other movements on other campuses.

    Campus movements aimed at providing students of color with equal opportunities and, yes, shelter from racial aggression represent a necessary next step in finding true equality on Cornell’s campus.

    Sure, Bender’s claim that “… vast improvements have been made to enable today’s students to thrive, and we are far better than we ever were” is fair, to a point. But such interposition implies that students and activists shouldn’t continue to push for full equality, that they should say “Well, that’s good enough!”

    Bender’s entitled to this opinion, but it’s laughable to think that a white Baby Boomer who graduated form Cornell in 1984 has any clue what life is like on campus for today’s students of color.

    Hopefully, he’ll be too busy telling kids to get off his lawn to write many more letter like this.

    • Cornell Alum

      In what ways are minority students not given equal opportunities at Cornell? Some goals are not achievable – you can’t guarantee social integration. You can’t force certain people to be friends with others. Civic? In a democracy you cannot guarantee parity of representation. Parity of academic outcome is a noble goal, but parity of academic opportunity is more important. Again, I’d ask to see where that is not being met.

      You would think that it’s extremely terrible being a student of color at Cornell today. We hear about how students feel “unsafe.” That is a subjective feeling. What proof is there of actual risk? White women used to feel “unsafe” around black men. One’s personal feelings cannot, and should not, be used as sole justification for ideas or actions, especially regressive ideals like censorship, which is more and more seen as a valid response to such claims. You even mention that sheltering students is a good thing. When a university starts to endorse the sheltering of its students, it ceases to be a useful tool for education.

      If a reporter came to you with a story based on somebody’s “feelings,” hopefully you would have said, “where are the facts?” That is what is missing from so many of these students demands. Facts. A feeling is not enough. If “safe spaces” are to be created (with university money, no doubt), a risk must be defined. Ideas should never be censored because of a feeling.

      • Brycen

        You realize that the example of “white women used to feel unsafe around black men” is not helping your argument, right? Black men used to be killed for those very “feelings.” Today, cops are killing people because they feel “unsafe.” The issue is that a majority of individuals negate the experiences of groups of people and dismiss those groups by saying their “emotional.”

        To act like Cornell is this perfect place where racism can’t possibly occur is stupid. Especially if you went here before today (which means there definitely was racism around – it didn’t start after you graduated); again, I appreciate the alum for helping build Cornell’s reputation but if you don’t live here in the current moment then you shouldn’t try to inform anyone’s opinions on campus climate.

  • Chopper

    The name Cornell has such a nintheenth century white privelge ring to it. It’s high time we got rid of that trigger warning micro aggression on all people of color (POC) embarrassment. How about the “Mike Brown ” college of keepin’ it real? Or maybe just “Laquan U” . After all ,Black lives matter (BLM), old dead white guys are bad.

    • Joseph

      Ah, illustrating a great point actually… you can’t fight micro-aggressions when the people committing them have no idea what the hell that even means. Pick up a book, you’re embarrassing the rest of the alums

      • Chopper

        I’m with you Joe! Let’s educate these racists! Spell out those micro aggressions (I hope that wasn’t a micro aggression) . Is there like a micro aggression manual avilabile some where, I just want to make sure we’re going after the right people here. At least chairman Mao had a little red book to go by.

    • DLC

      Perhaps students of African descent are disturbed by the fact that no great civilization ever existed in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, that is not the fault of the students of European or Asian descent.

      The United States was founded by Europeans and based on European ideals. Those ideals include the rights of the individual, the rule of written law, free inquiry, capitalism and the scientific method among other things. The result was the most dynamic country on the face of the planet.

      Get over it.

  • Joseph

    According to Cornell’s institutional data, there are currently twice the number of underrepresented undergraduates as there were in 2002. I imagine that means that in 1984 there even fewer. The chances that Bender even knew a PoC seem unlikely and even if he knew one it would be easy to avoid them…

    • DLC

      Lots of assumptions in this response and therefore useless.

  • 1992 Alum

    Back when I was at Cornell, I was extremely busy at this time of year preparing for finals and writing papers. It would appear that the perpetually aggrieved at Cornell are not sufficiently challenged by their chosen fields of study. Stop the thumbsucking and hit the books.

    • Joseph

      This may shock you, but students are still busy doing all of those things, and have jobs, and clubs, and social lives, and STILL find time to fight for a better campus climate. Sorry that your academic experience was too tough for you to balance other important obligations.

      • Chopper

        In all fairness 1992 alum might have been taking courses a little more difficult than pan African and gender studies, just sayin..

        • LOL

          Yeah, I’ve heard AEM 209: Taking a Job at Father’s Firm is a real nail-biter.

  • This article and several comments paraphrased

    “I’m an older, straight white male. Because I do not see systemic oppression, it must not exist. If it did, I would see it. It does not occur to me that because I am straight, white and male, perhaps those of different backgrounds might have a different experience than me. That would require me to admit that I might be wrong, which I find very unlikely, since I’m usually right. Therefore I would like everyone who says otherwise to please be quiet. Your constant disagreeing with me makes me feel threatened, because I, an older straight white male, am completely unaccustomed to feeling challenged or checked. It is completely foreign to me; there is no way it could possibly be valid. Other straight white males of my generation seem to agree with me, so there’s really no way I’m not correct. I am going to use words like “coddled” “self-absorbed” and “thin-skinned,” to describe these annoying kids, because the more I say it, the more I feel okay about writing off anything these people have to say, regardless of any validity their statements might hold, because I’m writing them off as people. In the end, my feeling superior, correct, and confident is much more important than any supposed struggle someone who doesn’t look like me might be experiencing. After all, I’m an older, straight white male, and this is America. I’m usually right.”

    Lol, you’re all bullshit.

    • Chopper

      Take your comment, take out the “straight white male” part and insert yourself. Then you will have a pretty good profile on how a lot of people view you. You guys don’t seem really big on freedom of speech.

      • This article and several comments paraphrased

        “You guys don’t seem really big on freedom of speech.” Hahaha, this argument is such bullshit. If you were actually fighting for freedom of speech, you would be applauding students’ right to protest. Everything happening around the country is a huge exercise in free speech, and if that were something you believed in, you would be encouraging this, not opposing it. You’re not a fan of free speech, and you’re not a fan of being challenged or checked.

        • George

          There is nothing wrong with protest for a good cause. The criticism is directed toward the cause and related demands. Demands for mandatory indoctrination into the imagined grievances of PoC is not a good cause.

      • Joseph

        It’s only freedom of speech when it’s to silence someone else? That seems odd.

        • This article and several comments paraphrased

          ^^ This. This comment is privilege. It is the perfect example. It is the profound lack of understanding that comes with being white: the feeling that white people are being silenced when people of color speak up. The feeling that by people in the minority gaining a voice, it must mean people in the majority are losing one.

          Here is a newsflash you are not being silenced. Wait! I already know your next move: it’s to point out the minute examples of where people who share your opinion felt they were being written off or silenced. (Shock!) It’s to completely ignore the fact that our society gives the people who hold the same opinions as you do nearly infinitely more of a voice and a platform: SO MUCH that you don’t even see it! All you see is the interruption to the status quo. That. Is. Privilege.

          I already know you fail to see it (let’s be honest, you and most of your generation, including the author of this article, are beyond repair), but I’m really hoping other people reading this do.

          • Recent Alum ’15

            I think Joseph was replying to Chopper here… I might be wrong, but that’s what it looked like to me.

          • This article and several comments paraphrased

            Ah. Good call. I rescind. My bad, Joe.

          • Alumnus and Parent

            What I find alarming is the increasingly widespread belief that shutting down opposing viewpoints should be applauded as an exercise of freedom of speech. People are increasingly trapped in their own bubbles, and it is a dangerously delusional for any group, from whatever side of the political spectrum, to believe that it is appropriate to shut down the exchange of viewpoints and obstruct the “marketplace of ideas.”

            A recent example is the movement to cut off funding for Wesleyan’s student newspaper, which had the temerity to publish an op-ed piece that some found troubling. It sets a terrible precedent, and one that must be resisted regardless of one’s belief’s in the content of the message.

          • Joseph

            No prob, there isn’t a proper sarcasm emoji yet 😉

    • MA ’15

      Stop assuming everyone who disagrees with you is white or male or old. What you don’t understand that there are so many MINORITY (gender, racial, economic) students who are fed up with this whole “check-your-privilege/micro-aggression/safe space” jargon. And, your personal feelings do not represent the voice of every student of color on campus — so many of us disagree but say nothing for fear of retaliation by our overly aggressive, social-justice-warrior peers.

      Maybe you feel “unsafe” or “threatened” because of your own hypersensitivity to your surroundings and NOT because Cornell is a harmful environment for minorities — it’s not. You’re scapegoating the administration for things that are, for the most part, outside their control.

      Yeah, systemic discrimination exists in our society. But you’re only further alienating yourself by making unreasonable proposals, emotional accusations, and arguments filled with empty buzzwords.

    • Pyrofruit

      Found the SJW. Go ahead, complain about how white males get all of the privilege. You basically ignore everything he says. Trying to mock him just to make your point stronger.

  • Sixsmith

    Mr. Bender,

    I’m going to serve you an ad-hominem attack. I hope you’re not microaggressed.

    There is a key difference between respecting an individual’s right to speak their mind, and accusing unfair victimization. Word have the power to victimize, and while I will always defend your right to say what you want and victimize others, I will defend others’ rights to feel victimized and play the victim card whenever harmful opinions like yours are espoused.

    What bothers me, Mr. Bender, is that in a world of post-racial tension, you seek to exacerbate what is clearly an ever-growing global problem by provoking readership. Again, you have the right to provoke, but those provoked have the right to be absolutely victimized by you as well.

    I’m a white student. I feel as though, sometimes, movements provoked by minorities at Cornell can be exaggerated. They have just as much of a right to make their claims as I do to make mine. The difference between you and I, Mr. Bender, is that I’ll offer well-balanced rhetoric to add to my points. I approach issues cautiously and with reason, and while people may not agree with me all of the time, I always keep my opinions civil, as I would expect my opponents to do.

    Get over yourself. The world is changing, Mr. Bender, for better or worse. You want to make a change? Be the change you wish to see. Don’t complain on the Sun’s website about how my generation is “coddled”. I am most certainly narcissistic and coddled, and I feel entitled to be that way. I’ve had success in my career aspirations and expect more success down the line. But I don’t complain that the “politically correct” culture we live in harms me. I just make it work to my advantage however I can. That’s what an astute mind would do. My generation wants to make the world your metaphorical “daycare” because we want to. That’s it.

    We’re going to take over soon. Get ready, Mr. Bender, because your fantasy of privilege is going to exhaust itself fast.

    • Chopper

      Whoa there Mr white privelge Sixsmith, you keep up with that” post racial tension” business and old man Bender is going to be the least of your troubles. POC KNOW for sure racism is as bad or worse than EVER! got that?

    • George

      Sixsmith-anyone can feel however they want to feel. They can be aggrieved (or pretend to be) for some trivial slight. They can play the victim all day long. They can complain that no one is bowing down to them. So what! There are two key (probably more) takeaways: 1. In the real world, hardly anyone gives a shit about your bruised feelings, and 2. You only hurt yourself by adopting the victim mentality. You are still a student and believe you have successfully gamed the system? That will not last long.

      • 1992 Alum

        I honestly think Sixsmith’s comment is intended as parody. At least I hope so.

    • DLC


      Mr. Bender is on point. The advanced navel watching conducted by these advocates is detrimental to students who attend the University to learn. The culture of victimization is, in my opinion, the result of a post-industrial society with too many therapists, trauma specialists and counselors. Most Americans have physical comfort; the new generation seeks psychological comfort. However, psychological comfort comes not from forcing others to agree with you but from within. It appears to me that the navel watchers have a low opinion of themselves and that these feelings of low self worth are thrust upon others.

  • Bender Is Delusional

    Yes, our generation is so worrisome. If only we could all grow up to be angry old men who write poorly written letters to colleges we attended 33 years ago. I hope I can grow up to be such a well-adjusted and clearly not insane person just like Mr.Bender.

    • George

      It is interesting that someone calling for students to behave like mature, rational beings is deemed insane while those advocating mandatory political indoctrination courses are deemed courageous social activists.

      • Bender Is Delusional

        Excessively following the campus politics of 19 year olds at a school you went to 33 years ago is alarming. His letter seems like a call for help more than actual substance.

        • George

          Do you actually believe Mr. Bender is mentally disturbed? Do you believe that of everyone who disagrees with you?

        • Sateesh

          So no one with current experience at Cornell should have a say about what or how Cornell should be run? Let’s try to apply this argument to other areas: Should we stop listening to Henry Kissinger or Jimmy Carter because they have no current experience in the government? Should we stop reading Toni Morrison or Zora Neale Hurston because their experience is not up to date?

          • Bender Is Delusional

            Lol @ you comparing this random scmuck to Henry Kissinger. The author has no credentials beyond that of simply attending the same university. There are hundreds of thousands of alumni, but this guy believed he is the choose on one; it is he who must write to the school newspaper to warm the plebeians. Cornell isn’t a state or a democracy, and if it was, the authors opinion would be even more insignificant and inconsequential.

        • Sateesh

          Looks like your reading comprehension into my comment needs improvement.

        • DLC

          Cornell reaches out to alumni in order to garner cash contributions used to subsidize your education.

        • @Bender is Delusional

          So should we just do away with Letters to the Editor and opinion columnists? Why are you not critiquing the letter published today by a group of 8-9 students that have apparently deemed themselves the “chosen” ones by trying to speak for an entire group?

  • Enginerd

    Great letter to the Sun. I think it is interesting how censorship used to be the tool of the right, but that now, it has become the tool of the left. College is a time to confront new ideas. A large part of my Cornell education came from debating my Freshman roommate, who came from the opposite side to the political spectrum.
    I can remember very well, when an evangelist came on campus to convert us all and from time to time, spewed hate. How can you condemn someone and shout them down until after you hear what they have to say.
    Certainly, students should be protected from someone yelling “fire” or “bomb,” but we are moving much farther from free speech than we need to, especially on a college campus.

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