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We, the faculty of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, want to thank Arts and Sciences Dean Gretchen Ritter ’83 for her emphasis on the value of the interdisciplinary programs in her opinion piece published on May 12 in The Cornell Daily Sun. We are, however, concerned that the material support for our program has been overstated or misrepresented in this opinion piece, and would like to clarify the actual situation the program faces. Our program, since its inception in the 1970s as Women’s Studies, has been a leader in feminist analysis across disciplines, fostering dialogue across departments and throughout the University. Feminist, Gender and Sexuality studies is an interdiscipline that focuses feminist and queer critical lenses on the regulation of gendered and sexed personhood, the distribution of rights and the formation of knowledge. Our mission in research and teaching is to enable students and colleagues to develop skills in critical literary, cultural and social analysis in order to generate new insights and methodologies, with the goal of advancing research on gender and sexuality in a wide range of disciplines, and of supporting diversity and social justice at Cornell and in the world.
I believe deeply in the value of these programs. As research enterprises and educational units, these programs greatly enrich the College of Arts & Sciences. In the context of the curriculum review we are currently endeavoring in the college, our faculty have affirmed the value of such considerations with the proposal to add a “human difference” category to the breadth requirements. If we are to prepare our students to be good global citizens and navigate an increasingly heterogeneous world, then we must prepare them to understand how social categories are created, and the implications that this has for our society more broadly.
A few years removed from college, I can still remember the uncomfortable, awkward and somewhat silencing experience of attending a Cornell Hillel Israeli Independence Day celebration while my fellow classmates stood outside, protesting the event and what it stood for. I was told that our Israel Day celebration was “apolitical,” and that celebrating the country’s birth was by no means taking a stance on the political situation there. Something about this didn’t sit right with me. But I did not speak up, because I was not willing to jeopardize my relationships with my friends and community. Desmond Tutu, the South African social activist, once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” As I move through life and continue to reflect back on this experience, I have come to the conclusion that in being neutral in this situation of injustice, I had chosen the side of the oppressor.
I’ve been told by my editor that this will be the last Opinion piece that The Sun will publish this academic year. I was originally going to write a piece of triumphant platitude that ended by quoting Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night,” but realized that by doing so, I would be going pretty fucking gently into that good night. So I will spare you the TEDTalk, because that’s what ILR classes are for anyways. Instead, I want to talk about something much more fundamental and simple: nostalgia. As another school year comes to an end and I see close friends ready to leave Ithaca, it’s a sentiment that I’ve been thinking about often these days.
Last Wednesday, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 32-year old Mexican national and Ithaca resident Jose L. Guzman. The event was confirmed and only widely spread once reporters investigated the swift and shocking arrest, a bleak reminder that federal agencies are operating faster than ever under the auspices of the current administration. ICE has become more active over the past few months, increasing their arrests by a staggering 32.6 percent only a few weeks after Trump assumed the presidency. Under the Obama administration, federal agents were directed to focus on serious criminals — now, empowered by the new administration, ICE is increasingly merciless in its efforts to deport undocumented immigrants, even those with no criminal record. “Before, we used to be told, ‘You can’t arrest those people,’ and we’d be disciplined for being insubordinate if we did…Now those people are priorities again,” a 10-year veteran of the ICE agency admitted to The New York Times.
People around me often ask why I’m so cynical, why my columns are always so scornful, why I view the world in such a negative light. Perhaps I merely think that there’s always something to criticize. Perhaps having been taught to ask questions from an early age has created for me a dismal view of the world. My pessimistic attitude may have stemmed from the dismissive remarks I read in The Sun’s comments section. Or maybe it’s simply due to my love for writing, which thankfully hasn’t receded yet despite the countless papers and essays I’ve had to write as an ILR major (which I think is equally “I Love wRiting” as much as it is notoriously known to be “I Love Reading”).
A motto that is printed on memorabilia, engrained in our minds since orientation, and at the tail end of University statements. A concept upon which our institution is founded. The end of spring semester is a time for us to reflect on another year at Cornell, and a time for our graduating peers to reflect on the totality of their Cornell experience. I have found myself incessantly asking my graduating friends, “so did you enjoy your Cornell experience?” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the responses vary. Ranging from wide smiles to grimaces, they exemplify the notion that there is no singular Cornell experience.
The American Health Care Act is a misguided piece of legislation that, if enacted, could result in the loss of health care for tens of millions, increased premiums for the elderly, reduced protections for those with pre-existing conditions (encompassing everything from asthma to pregnancy to cancer to prior sexual assault), and signal the return of lifetime limits and reductions in employer coverage. This is a bad bill for America, and a bad bill for New York’s 23rd Congressional District.
Being my last year at Cornell, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to all whom made it possible. Between my mom, dad, my brother, the C.U. lift drivers, some of the great professors and Student Disability Services, Cornell was an experience I will never forget. The C.U. lift was a great asset that Cornell has; Mindy and Martha always went above and beyond what they were required to do. Not all C.U. lift drivers really care like Mindy and Martha, and without the C.U. lift, I doubt Cornell would’ve been feasible. The professors were a mixed bag, but there were some great ones I will never forget.