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.
Last spring, the Cornell economics department decided to discontinue access to Curricular Practical Training work authorization for international students in the major. This decision will force international students to get Optional Practical Training visas in order to pursue summer internships and independent studies. The policy change not only makes it much harder for international students to intern over the summer, but also jeopardizes their chances of finding jobs in the U.S. after graduation. For many international students, seeking internships and jobs is already hard enough. After graduation, they must make a tough decision between pursuing and paying for a graduate degree and attempting the daunting task of obtaining an H-1B temporary work visa.
Troublingly, the S.A. has been allowed to allocate and regulate its own finances for far too long. We suggest a simple solution: an independent committee of undergraduates that reviews and approves the Student Assembly’s finances.
The Cornell University College Republicans plan to “make an announcement” later this week and are likely preparing to endorse a presidential candidate. One particular candidate poses an imminent threat to the values of our country and our campus. From its founding, Cornell has been a progressive institution, striving to foster an egalitarian and diverse campus. Although never perfectly implemented, the motto ‘any person, any study’ was and remains a radical notion: that every student should have an equal opportunity to receive an excellent education. Regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability, every student is equal in the pursuit of higher education.
Problem solving is most productive when it happens from the bottom up, and the responsibility of crafting a stronger and more representative S.A. falls on not just elected representatives but also on every undergraduate student.