On Jan. 25, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights opened its sixth Title IX investigation into alleged mishandling of sexual assault investigations by Cornell, making it the university with the most active Title IX investigations. Under Title IX, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” At Cornell, that promise has come into question. The accounts of all parties involved in the recent Doe v. Roe case were unfairly evaluated under Policy 6.4, the University’s problematic policy for handling cases of sexual harassment. Cornell came under fire for instances of evident discrimination in this case.
On Friday, President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order banning Syrian citizens indefinitely and citizens of seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the United States for 90 days. This order includes citizens of those countries who had previously been granted refugee status and currently enjoy permanent legal status in the United States and citizens of allied nations such as Canada and the U.K. who happen to originate from one of the listed countries. As U.S. authorities began detaining an increasing number of people, protesters began to flood airports across the country. Beyond those directly affected, the order has serious ramifications for the entire country: family members separated from each other, such as an Iranian mother separated from her five-year-old son at Washington’s Dulles International Airport; tenured scientists hindered from continuing their work, such as computational biologist Samira Asgari, who was “very shocked that all [her] efforts, that all [she had] done, can be undone – just like that.” American universities have since advised their foreign students against making international travel plans and find the strength of their educational and research efforts at risk. Over 20 percent of Cornellians are international students, and many others participate in programs abroad.
Though elite colleges often boast of their affordability and socioeconomic diversity, a recent study found that Cornell enrolls approximately the same number of students from the richest one percent as it does from the bottom 40 percent. This troubling statistic points to flaws in the University’s mission to make higher education more accessible to students of all incomes. The under-representation of low-income students hinders diversity and inclusion at prestigious schools by discouraging deserving, qualified students from attending and succeeding in college. Cornell must continue relieving the cost of attending college. Many students and their families remain baffled by the complicated process of applying for financial aid because important information remains scattered across various online sources.
Donald Trump’s election came as a shock to many, including a significant number of Cornell students. His victory is surprising for many reasons: Trump will be the first president with no formal political or military experience before entering the White House; he began his campaign with a promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it; throughout his campaign, Trump has made racist, sexist, Islamophobic and otherwise hateful comments. Yet it should be less of a surprise that rural voters overwhelmingly supported Trump, especially since the Democratic establishment and progressive elites have dismissed them throughout the campaign and for the past several years. This should not surprise Cornell students and faculty, who live in deep blue Ithaca but are surrounded by a sea of red. Every county adjoining Tompkins County — which Hillary won with more than 60 percent of votes — supported Trump.
Late last night, the voters of this country elected Donald J. Trump the 45th president of the United States. Despite running a campaign distorted by hints of authoritarianism, building a platform based in racism and misogyny and despite the appalling personal inadequacy of Trump govern this great nation, in January he will ascend to the White House. Cornellians last night and today reacted with an outpouring of horror and sadness. Many minority students fear they could face deportation. Women are anxious about the decisions that will be made by a Republican Congress and right-leaning Court, and wonder about the implications of elevating a man who brags about sexually assaulting women to the Oval Office.
Tomorrow, millions of Americans will vote. A significant number of Cornellians are casting absentee ballots for their home state (and for those who haven’t yet, this is a gentle reminder to get those in soon), but students registered in Ithaca will vote in a congressional election that has become as contentious as the Clinton-Trump face-off. Democratic challenger Navy Captain John Plumb is vying with incumbent Congressman Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) to represent New York’s 23rd congressional district in the House of Representatives. Although the vitriol hurled by both campaigns is alarming, Plumb has proven the stronger contender with a platform that would actually support New York residents. One of the first congressmen to endorse Republican nominee Donald Trump, Reed has continually supported misguided, if not dangerous, policies.
Harvard dining workers made headlines this month for their 22-day strike, which forced the university to concede to their demanded $35,000 a year salary. Yet, the college’s Ivy League peer, Cornell, is receiving much less attention for its substandard treatment of workers. Cornell dining employee wages average $16.88 an hour, much less than the $21.89 an hour that Harvard employees made before they went on strike. Additionally, Cornell dining employees say they face unfavorable working conditions: a 35-hour-per-week limit and the unavailability of work due to academic breaks limits how much a full-time employee can make. Several individuals reported earning less than $30,000 a year.
This is an investigation that absolutely cannot slip from the minds of this community. As the police grow quiet about the issue, the Ithaca and Cornell communities must continue to demand justice and closure.
This election cycle has been bitter and divisive. The last debate showcased ugly language and personal attacks that have no place in a presidential forum; a deluge of leaks, ranging from emails to tapes, has shown Americans who their candidates are behind closed doors. Both mainstream candidates and third party alternatives have continually been forced to justify gaffes, offensive language and scandals on the campaign trail. From the early days of the primary to today, less than a month until Nov. 8, this has proved to be an election season like no other.
Cornell has a long way to go on student housing. Dozens of transfer students were forced to live in lounges on North Campus at the beginning of the semester, and 10 have still not been moved out. Collegetown apartments are expensive, and the annual rush to sign leases shows no sign of slowing. Simply, there is a dearth of on-campus housing: 78 percent of undergraduates surveyed in the spring indicated that they would like to live on campus, but only 56 percent managed to. Off campus, students often pay high rent and face subpar living conditions.