Editors Note: Reed Steberger ’13 ended their candidacy for Tompkins County Legislature Thursday night.
In less than one week, Democrats will head to the polls to elect their nominees for the Tompkins County legislature. In District 4, incumbent Rich John ’81, who won a write-in campaign four years ago, is being challenged by Reed Steberger ’13. No candidate in the race has been endorsed by this paper. However, following a disturbing report in The Sun about Steberger’s conduct while at Cornell University, we are calling on Steberger to drop out of contention for this seat.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration decided to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — otherwise known as DACA — in an unfortunate manifestation of a familiar pattern for this White House. This sequence of events would have embarrassed any previous administration but is now quite normal: a controversial proposal is floated, the president appears to vacillate on the issue seemingly up until the date of the announcement, and then he makes the wrong decision, despite Jared and Ivanka’s extensively leaked efforts to convince him to do otherwise. DACA, enacted in 2012 under President Obama, extended protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of residents who were brought to America as minors by their parents. After today’s decision, the fates of up to 800,000 DREAMers across the country hang in the balance. The administration’s callous disregard for both the livelihoods of those affected and the economic impacts of such a shift in policy is cruel and deserves to be denounced in the strongest terms.
The announcement comes on the heels of the president’s direction to Congress, issued on Twitter, to “get ready to do your job-DACA!” On this particular issue, we agree with the president: Congress should do its job by immediately passing legislative protections for DACA recipients when they return from recess this September.
Cornell’s 14th president, Martha E. Pollack, takes the helm of the University at a time of great opportunity and great uncertainty for the institution and the students it serves. In the coming months, Cornell will realize two projects both years in the making: the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, and the S.C. Johnson College of Business in Ithaca, twin endeavors that have the potential to dramatically augment and enhance the scope and impact of the University. In addition, the Pollack administration must reckon with a federal government increasingly hostile toward science, the humanities, higher education writ large, and a U.S. president who agitates against minority groups that are an integral part of the Cornell community. Our guiding principle of “Any Person, Any Study” lies in opposition to the priorities of the White House, and President Pollack must stand resolute against any attempts by Washington, D.C. to endanger either Cornell’s mission or its students. We applaud her for her strong condemnation of President Trump’s milquetoast and dithering statement on white supremacy and Neo-Nazism following the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., and trust that she will continue to advocate publicly for equality and justice whenever necessary.
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.
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.
The past two years has seen an unmistakable rise in the level of vitriol in our nation’s political discourse. The election of a deeply unpopular president and the implementation of misguided policies have served only to acidify further the national political conversation. It doesn’t need to be that way on Cornell’s campus. Hopefully, it won’t be. Last week, Natalie Brown ’18 was elected president of the Cornell University College Democrats.
When The Sun published the AFAWG documents, it did so in the interest of transparency. As an independent news organization, it is incumbent on us to report issues and stories important to and affecting the Cornell and broader Ithaca community, such as the proposed changes to Cornell’s admissions policy. It is unfortunate that such discussions were taking place behind closed doors with such limited input from the Cornell student body — had the proceedings been more transparent, leaks would not have been necessary.
On March 27 and 28, Cornell graduate students will vote on the question of their potential unionization, the finale to a series of events prompted by an August 2016 NLRB ruling that graduate students can be considered workers with the right to unionize. This is a reversal of a 2004 ruling which stated that graduate students should have a “primarily educational, not economic, relationship with their university.”
The role of graduate students has become highly contentious; students argue they play an indispensable yet under-appreciated role in Cornell’s research initiatives and course curricula. Cornell Graduate Students United supports unionization as a means of increasing the benefits of all graduate students at Cornell through a collective bargaining unit. The potential union will aim to give graduate students a say over issues ranging from health insurance to stipends and wage increases, ultimately to improve students’ living and working conditions. Critics of the union point out potentially flawed voting procedures and the potential union’s ability to fairly represent grad students.
This coming Sunday evening, undergraduate students will have the opportunity to cast their ballots in the 2017 Student Assembly election. Although there are thirteen total positions, the Sun traditionally endorses only in the races of President and Executive Vice President. The candidates for president of the Student Assembly are Matthew Indimine ’18 and Jung Won Kim ’18. The candidates for executive vice president are Mayra Valadez ’18 and Varun Devatha ’19. In the race for president, we are proud to endorse Matthew Indimine ’18.
Over the past week, the editors of The Sun have conducted in-depth interviews with all five of the candidates for the office of undergraduate student-elected trustee. After much consideration, The Sun has decided to withhold our endorsement. We do not take this decision lightly, and we want to share with you why we have declined to endorse any of the five candidates. The student-elected trustee is a fully-vested member of the Board of Trustees; they must be comfortable working with, and arguing against when necessary, entrenched and powerful interests. A position of this gravity demands the most experience possible from those who would seek to occupy it.