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DANBERG BIGGS | A Great Way to Shoot the Hostage

Over the last two weeks, a group of Student Assembly members, supported by several leaders of student organizations, has been on a crusade to cut student funding to the Cornell Cinema. This culminated in a joint statement with Provost Michael Kotlikoff on Wednesday committing to “begin a collaborative process to ensure Cornell Cinema does not shut down.” This statement is genuinely encouraging; however, despite this qualified success, the nature of this campaign has been quite concerning. In an effort to take a stand, the S.A. held a valuable institution hostage, and put the livelihoods of its full-time employees in jeopardy. Setting aside individual intentions, the tactics that these students have taken, both in public statements and in a letter to the editor  this week, have ranged from bizarre to downright reckless. The power to control large organizational budgets carries with it the responsibility to be considered and thoughtful.

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DANBERG BIGGS | My Jewish Is in the Searching

This week my Judaism became suddenly quite visible. When anti-Semitism was plastered across campus, Jewish went from being a private piece of self to the subject of public discussion, in classrooms, on social media and with peers. Yet even in a moment when Jewish identity was directly vandalized, the conversations I have had this week remind me that my lifelong experience with American Jewry has been a constant tension. On one side is the rich and complex sense of Jewish self that my parents and community have offered, while on the other lie the two-dimensional assumptions of everyone else. Recently, Jewish has been something I have searched for in places where it once thrived.

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DANBERG BIGGS | You Can’t Do Politics Scared

The most useless columns I write treat politics like a profile picture. They are snapshots of whatever kind of political aesthetic I would like to have attached to my name. Sometimes, this is a regurgitation of the campus consensus, while at other times it is contrarian purely for its own sake. They are honest, but only in the most superficial sense. That is, they are honestly the beliefs I would like you to think I hold.

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DANBERG BIGGS | Power, Complicity and Us

Hate is a brute expression of power. At its most transparent, a cross burns on the lawn of a black family and a sign is posted in a storefront signaling who need not apply. Then, hate is motivated by a desire for power, a gruesome declaration of exactly who ought to belong. White Americans are trained to spot this kind of power grab, shown black-and-white diagrams in textbooks outlining racism like it’s some strain of poison oak that we can sketch, memorize and hop over on our way to get where we’re going. Yet when confronting bigotry that requires us to break stride, when an act of hate expresses a kind of social power from which we benefit, our response is often insufficient.

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DANBERG BIGGS | This Week We Remember Terror in Reverse

For nearly two decades, my generation has been asked to use our memory of 9/11 as a tool to build our national identity. In a nation increasingly torn apart by anger and mistrust, so rarely willing to deem any experience collective, such a tool is absolutely critical. Yet my memory of that day is a counterfeit. It’s just one still-frame, blurry behind the familiar haze of early childhood, and that has never been sufficient. I am of a narrow and specific cohort of people who have been taught to tell their story as Americans based on a day that we cannot really remember.

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DANBERG BIGGS | It Really Is the Small Stuff

Two weeks ago, Cornell quietly put an end to a pretty good idea. In an email sent to 30 participants, the University announced the cancellation of the Foreign Student Employment Program for the coming year. It was a truly tiny program that served a narrow purpose: for $40,000 a year, or .001 percent of its annual operating budget, the University subsidized part-time work for a handful of foreign students. Yesterday, President Martha Pollack reversed course, announcing that the program would be reinstated. It was a small, acutely bad decision to end this program, and a commendable choice to bring it back.

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DANBERG BIGGS | They Are Not With You, Not Really

Over the last several months, Cornell has suspended need-blind admissions for international students and considered doing the same for transfer applicants. More recently it has taken clear steps to actively dissuade its graduate students from forming a union, a clear violation of an agreement signed last May. For non-affluent students, rising tuition has made attending the University increasingly challenging and for some completely impossible. The point is, much as I do love this school, in many important ways attending Cornell is more like a hitchhiked ride than a chartered flight. Perhaps we are going to the same place — I would like a degree, and in general terms the University would like a student to have one, a student that might as well be me.