LETTER TO THE EDITOR | 1967 Redux: The Murder of Anthony Nazaire

To the Editor:
The fatal attack on Ithaca College student Anthony Nazaire and the futile police hunt for his killer bring to mind the still unsolved murders of nine Cornellians ― eight students and one faculty member ― who perished in the April 1967 fire at the Cornell Heights Residential Club (now Hurlburt or Ecology House). Survivors were relocated to other campus and Collegetown lodging; two of these residences suffered fires, Watermargin on May 23 and 211 Eddy Street on May 31. All three fires were confirmed to be arson attacks when evidence of fluid accelerants was found. Classes ended, the summer break came and when the fall 1967 term began the incendiary attacks were all but forgotten. The Cornell Board of Trustees had imposed a policy of official silence.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Liberty’s Plantations

To the editor:

This is one of the few times it is socially advantageous to be a plant freak.  We normally get absent stares when we open our mouths but we finally have one thing in demand: perspective on Liberty Hyde Bailey.  I know him from my plant genetics class as a disciple of Mendel and from my agricultural history class as the seminal agrarian writer. To horticulture he was a master taxonomist who coined the term “cultivar,” that’s a plant variety bred for cultivation.  To Cornell he was CALS’ first dean and the man who hired Anna Comstock, Martha Van Rensselaer and Flora Rose.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Addressing Male Sexual Victimization at Tapestry

Re: “First-Year Students Raise Concerns About Orientation Events at Student Assembly Meeting,” News, Sept. 2
To the Editor:
I was taken aback to read that Cornell’s mandatory orientation sessions “Tapestry” and “Speak About It” exclude coverage of male sexual victimization from their presentations. Still more extraordinary was the justification offered by a moderator when questioned about the absence: “[sexual violence] predominantly affects females, so we address the female issue.”
Such adherence to a long-discredited “one size fits all” approach, on the part of an individual specifically charged with educating the Cornell student body about the dynamics of sexual assault, is disquieting. Only last semester, in her keynote address for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, author and activist Kate Harding — herself a victim of campus rape — reminded the audience at Flora Rose House of the importance of not overlooking men and boys who have suffered sexual violence. “When you put people into one of these ‘unrapeable’ categories,” she said, “that just creates more barriers to [victims] being able to access resources and find help, let alone find justice.”
This message has clearly been lost on those in charge of Cornell’s first-year orientation, and the consequences are both obvious and alarming.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | True Conservatism for Cornell Republicans

Re: “Cornell Republicans Break Party Lines, Endorse Gary Johnson,” News, Sept. 2
To the Editor:
After having heard about the Cornell Republicans decision to endorse Gov. Gary Johnson for President, I felt the need to write a letter regarding this decision.  First and foremost, I am appalled by the words with which the CRs used to endorse Governor Johnson, going on to claim that he is a “true conservative.” Not only is this an insult to conservatives, but also an affirmation of ignorance as to what conservatism actually is. All it takes to observe this is a brief trip to Gov. Johnson’s website to realize that this man is surely no conservative!  Surely, there are some Republicans that may be at odds with the GOP on social issues among others, but to endorse the Johnson-Weld ticket and claim that it is a “truly conservative” ticket is outright deception!  The kicker to all of this now is that the organization seeks to call themselves the “Cornell Conservatives.” Calling themselves this after a Johnson endorsement is an additional insult to conservatism in and of itself. If the CRs were interested in true conservatism, they would have backed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) from the very start of the campaign.  Instead, the organization decided to frantically endorse Johnson at the last minute to try and halt Trump.  True conservatives are men and women built in the molds of Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Robert Bork, William F. Buckley, Jr. and a variety of others.  To claim that Gary Johnson is a “true conservative” is an insult to the work and lives of these remarkable symbols and hallmarks of American conservatism! If the Cornell Republicans have an issue with a Trump endorsement, then perhaps simply advising to “vote your conscience” is a better suggestion, rather than deception and falsely branding Governor Johnson.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | On Zen and Poetry

To the Editor:
Sometimes, I feel a surge of pride in Cornell students as a collective mass.  While this generalized feeling goes against my cognitive grain, it happens often enough for me to conclude that overall, we have a good selection process.  One such surge happened last Wednesday when the elderly poet Gary Snyder, a cultural hero for many of us from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, came to campus to speak. The lecture room in Kennedy Hall was packed.  Many of my students arrived over an hour early to get seats. As the room filled to capacity and people started sitting on the floor, individual seats here and there were offered to a handful of people.  I watched as students who had been there earlier offered seats to grey haired folks arriving just in time.  I heard one student say, “No way am I keeping my chair when I can easily just sit on the floor and an elderly person can’t.”  This particular student had been there for well over an hour.  This played out in what I saw to be about a dozen or more cases all over the auditorium: students standing and offering their seats to older people. (In another case, I later learned an older person insisted on a seat a student had saved for her friend, and then slept through the entire lecture.)
The woman in charge of getting people seated and enforcing the code then said, flatly, “Anyone who is sitting on the floor and who does not have a seat must now leave.” What disturbed me was that not a single person who had been offered a chair out of kindness by a young person stood up and offered their seat back to the student sitting on the floor, who now, because of their act of kindness, had to leave.  A grey haired couple in front of me who had arrived at 5:25 and were given seats by students, now simply sat stone still while those same students were literally right next to them, sadly packing their things to go.  I offered my seat to the retreating students leaving, was repeatedly refused, and finally another young woman came and sat on the edge of my chair. In the end, the lecture wasn’t that great.  I was thrilled to hear one of my favorite poems, “Hay for the Horses” read by the man who wrote it.  But as I sat there, a bit bored by Snyder’s ramblings, waiting for him to read his poetry, I reflected long and hard about the little generational drama that had played out in front of me.  We have a lot to learn from our students about civility, generosity and kindness.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Psi Upsilon Has Been Punished Enough

To the Editor:

On May 25, The Sun reported that Cornell University has expelled the Psi Upsilon fraternity for three years effective immediately, as a result of two recent incidents. I believe this action represents the culmination of an abusive campaign the University has conducted against the fraternity following the alleged sexual assault at the fraternity this past January. This summary executive action follows shortly on the heels of a Review Board’s determination that Psi Upsilon should be permitted to remain at Cornell and exonerating Psi Upsilon from any responsibility for the alleged assault. This arbitrary action imperils the independence and undermines the autonomy of every student group at Cornell. On a more personal note, it unfairly punishes the members of Psi U and their families. While the difficulty of the position the University found itself in dealing with alleged assault is not to be underestimated, enough is enough of this matter as far as the fraternity itself is concerned. The University should rescind the May 25 letter, adopt the findings of the Review Board and close the book on this matter.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Remembering Father Daniel Berrigan

To the Editor:
I’m happy to have seen some remembrance of the life of Father Daniel Berrigan in Tuesday’s Sun. I am disappointed, however, that aside from a few references to historical events of public record, The Sun seems not to have researched its own archives for a more substantial account of Dan’s time at Cornell. Writing as someone who was here at the time — and there are many besides me still in Ithaca — I can say that his example as man of conscience, poet and priest had a major influence on my education and life. I can only hope that today’s students encounter such great souls on their own journeys. Peter Fortunato, Arts and Sciences ’72

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | May Day: an [Un]Forgotten History

To the Editor:
Labor Day, the first Monday of September in the United States, marks a day dedicated to celebrating the contributions of the working class to the nation’s social and economic well-being. Historically, Labor Day was celebrated on the first of May until, fearing association with socialism, the U.S. changed May 1 from “International Workers Day” to “Law Day,” a holiday that promotes the obedience to the law and loyalty to the state. Labor Day was therefore moved to September, stripping away any undertones of socialist sentiment and relevant context. As a result, we have grown to associate the day with the end of summer and the first day of school, often passing over the history and significance of the working class struggle against capitalist exploitation. Although May Day is not celebrated in the U.S., where it is dismissed for its association with communism, the tradition actually has its roots in the States.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Presidential Search Committee Needs to Represent Broader Interests

To the Editor:
Provost Kotlikoff says that the presidential search committee “will be composed in a broad way.”
Among its nineteen members and three advisors I count six MBAs (five from Harvard and one from Penn) and two JDs (both from Harvard). Not surprisingly, every one of the MBAs is involved in banking, investment or high level corporate work. Both of the JDs are corporate lawyers. There are two students on the committee. One is in ILR; her bio strongly suggests she is more interested in industry than labor.