lte 11-4

Letter to the Editor: On the Student Assembly’s fiduciary duties

To the Editor:

The primary duty of the Student Assembly is to make decisions in the best interest of the entire student body. This past semester, the Student Assembly undertook one of its most important responsibilities — allocating the Student Activity Fee for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years. Our sole guiding principle has been to set and allocate a fee in the best, long-term interests of the undergraduate student body, and we firmly believe that the Undergraduate Student Activity Fee allocations as the Assembly has set them fulfill that intention. The new fee gives substantial increases in funding (averaging 14 percent and totaling $185,000) to 15 different campus organizations: ALANA, Alternative Breaks, Class Councils, Convocation Committee, Cornell Concert Commission, Cornell University Programming Board, Cornell University Emergency Medical Service, Haven, International Students Union, Multicultural Greek Letter Council, Orientation Steering Committee, Outdoor Odyssey, Slope Day Programming Board, Student Activities Funding Commission and Welcome Weekend Committee. Eight organizations saw no change in funding: Big Red Bikes, Club Insurance, Community Partnership Funding Board, Empathy Assistance and Referral Service, Cornell Environmental Collaborative, Cornell Minds Matter, Senior Days and the Women’s Resource Center.

hagopian 12-1

HAGOPIAN | On Fair-Mindedness

Mark Twain once said “when I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Sometimes my own blessed mother says something that makes me do an intellectual double take. She usually follows her insight up with the phrase, “feel free to use that in a column,” so that’s what I’m doing now. Mom was a women’s studies major (back when it was women’s studies and not gender studies; don’t get her started on that) and is therefore my main resource for feminist thought. Last week the subject of Trump came up, and I asked her how so many women could have voted for him after seeing the Access Hollywood tape.

Sex on Thursday

SEX ON THURSDAYS | Cornell Purity Test (Signs You’re a Hoe)

I fucking love my friends. They’re the bravest, funniest, most self-destructive hoes I know. The following list is a tribute to them. It’s the new purity test, the Cornell purity test, because fuck Rice. Lost your Cornell ID going out 3+ times.

Sex on Thursday

SEX ON THURSDAYS | Losing My Virginity: A Memoir

From the painfully awkward day my parents and I had the “Sex Talk,” I knew exactly how I wanted to lose my virginity. It would be magnificent — a combination of all of the steamy sex scenes I had secretly watched on the 2 p.m. daytime soap operas. A warm, candle-lit room with a plush bed and silky white sheets, rose petals sprinkled around the room in a shape of a heart, and bubbly Dom Perignon awaiting my arrival. My future boyfriend would be gentle and making love would be beautiful. Growing up with these elaborate expectations and years of my parents reinforcing their conservative point of view on my virginity, it was no surprise that I was on the verge of graduating from college and had never had sex.

song 11-30

SONG | Humanities Majors Aren’t Homeless Wannabes

Penniless. Paint-spattered jeans. Living under a cardboard canopy with peace sign stickers peeling by the edges and a battered typewriter bought off the streets. This is what flashes through the mind of someone who asks me, “Why are you an English major?”

Yes, this is the exaggerated version of a starving artist — the kind of writer with the wild hair and the collection of quills made of feathers plucked from pigeons on the streets. But I swear that’s what my parents and friends picture in that panic-throttling moment when I say, “I want a degree in the humanities.” Their eyes go blank and nervous laughter trickles into the suddenly-awkward air, often accompanied by holding onto some sort of railing for emotional support.

LAM | Lessons from That ‘70s Show: Leave the Flare Jeans, Disco Through the Next 3 Years

Battling the boredom that comes with being stuck in a Queens suburbs for Thanksgiving, I decided to watch other people have more fun in a similar situation by revisiting That ’70s Show. For those who are unfamiliar, That ’70s Show is a sitcom about teenager Eric Forman and his adventures with ditzy friends and family in the suburbs of 1970s Wisconsin. A show that travels back to the 1970s — a decade of distasteful fashion, politics, cars — it features simple storylines with relatable humor and devilishly creative camerawork that is almost avant-garde for a network show. There really are no adventures in Point Place, WI –the lyrics of the theme, “Hanging out down the street.  The same old thing, we did last week,” divulge this readily in the title sequence.

gilmore 11-28

GUEST ROOM | Toxic Masculinity in Fraternities: A Combat Veteran’s Perspective

I’ll preface this column by stating my intentions. I’m here to attempt to calm down these masculine macho men we see too often in many of the fraternities here at Cornell, and to approach this subject through my experience with it in the Marine Corps. That’s right, I’m a jarhead. During boot camp, we were legally and illegally hazed. The specificities of my treatment are best left unsaid because quite frankly, they were disgusting and atrocious, and absolutely insane, but there was some purpose to this hazing.

valadez 11-28

GUEST ROOM | How First-Gens At Cornell Do Thanksgiving Break

A few days ago while scrolling down my Facebook timeline, I came across this New York Times op-ed shared by the Women’s Resource Center’s page. The title intrigued me: “How First Generation College Students Do Thanksgiving Break.” I clicked the link and was pulled in by the first sentence: “In 1999, I had been a freshman in college in upstate New York for maybe two weeks…” Knowing full well that I’ve used the “Upstate New York” line many times myself, I knew the author was a Cornellian. Reading through the article, I was struck by the similarities between Jennine Capó Crucet’s experience at Cornell and my own: Dr. Capó Crucet is a Latina, daughter of immigrants, and First-Gen college student who struggled to adjust to Cornell —  just like me. And truth is, I am still adjusting. For the third year, I spent Thanksgiving break on campus.

benitez 11-27

BENITEZ | What, Exactly, Is ‘Utility’?

Regardless of whether you’ve taken a philosophy class, you’re likely already familiar with the trolley problem. While the exact terms of the problem may vary, its ultimate question remains constant: should you kill one person to save many and, if so, would you? As a helpful thought experiment, the trolley problem allows us to weigh the relative utility of either option by framing the number of lives saved as the only relevant gauge of either outcome. To save five lives, you must kill one. Any subsequent tension one feels when confronted by the problem is therefore because of an intuition to not kill rather than a reasoned cost-benefit analysis, as the latter always favors sacrificing one life for the benefit of five.

lte 11-20

Letter to the Editor: Concerning graduate student tax reform

To the Editor:

On Nov. 16, 2017, the House passed their long-anticipated Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The suggested tax reform, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, includes the following provision:
“Qualified Tuition Reductions: Under current law, qualified tuition reductions provided by educational institutions to their employees, spouses, or dependents are excluded from income. The exclusion may be provided in the form of either reduced tuition or cash. The reduction must be part of a program that does not discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees and may not apply to graduate programs (except for a graduate student who is teaching or a research assistant).