Editors note: This column is being published anonymously for the safety of the author.
One of the greatest days in my life was when I was accepted into a Cornell University graduate program. And one of the worst days was when, during spring semester open house weekend, a Cornell professor pressured me into sleeping with him. Being a graduate student at Cornell is a mixed bag. Some grads come in knowing which labs and advisors they’ll be working with, but others, like me, are lost at sea. The whole first year is a process of searching for a home and for someone who wants to work with you.
Battling the boredom that comes with being stuck in a Queens suburbs for Thanksgiving, I decided to watch other people have more fun in a similar situation by revisiting That ’70s Show. For those who are unfamiliar, That ’70s Show is a sitcom about teenager Eric Forman and his adventures with ditzy friends and family in the suburbs of 1970s Wisconsin. A show that travels back to the 1970s — a decade of distasteful fashion, politics, cars — it features simple storylines with relatable humor and devilishly creative camerawork that is almost avant-garde for a network show. There really are no adventures in Point Place, WI –the lyrics of the theme, “Hanging out down the street. The same old thing, we did last week,” divulge this readily in the title sequence.
I’ll preface this column by stating my intentions. I’m here to attempt to calm down these masculine macho men we see too often in many of the fraternities here at Cornell, and to approach this subject through my experience with it in the Marine Corps. That’s right, I’m a jarhead. During boot camp, we were legally and illegally hazed. The specificities of my treatment are best left unsaid because quite frankly, they were disgusting and atrocious, and absolutely insane, but there was some purpose to this hazing.
Pardon me for conveniently overlooking finals week, but we’re just so close to Winter Break. Risking my immediate success but securing my longer-term sanity, I would rather dream about a post-finals utopia than dwell on what is required to usher that utopia into being. So, the holidays! They are less than a month away now, and in college time, that’s hardly longer than a heartbeat. I’m usually not one for prior planning (in cases where it actually matters), but when something as liberating as Winter Break is around the corner, I’m a fan of shirking the present and doting on the future.
A few days ago while scrolling down my Facebook timeline, I came across this New York Times op-ed shared by the Women’s Resource Center’s page. The title intrigued me: “How First Generation College Students Do Thanksgiving Break.” I clicked the link and was pulled in by the first sentence: “In 1999, I had been a freshman in college in upstate New York for maybe two weeks…” Knowing full well that I’ve used the “Upstate New York” line many times myself, I knew the author was a Cornellian. Reading through the article, I was struck by the similarities between Jennine Capó Crucet’s experience at Cornell and my own: Dr. Capó Crucet is a Latina, daughter of immigrants, and First-Gen college student who struggled to adjust to Cornell — just like me. And truth is, I am still adjusting. For the third year, I spent Thanksgiving break on campus.
I recently came upon my high school’s new Facebook page and browsed through to see how much has changed in the year and a half since I left. The administration had finally given into students and parents’ wishes for improved facilities because really, the ceilings should not have leaked every time it rained. Along with the irritation I felt wishing such changes were implemented back when I was there, I spent a lot of time thinking about how much my own life has changed since I graduated. Like many other students here, I was the student with great extracurricular activities and good academic standing. I had big dreams before embarking on my Cornell journey.
I’ll be quite honest with you: I’m trying to hammer out this column at the pace I once only reserved for SAT essays and angry-turned-angsty Facebook messages. It’s Thanksgiving weekend, and my family is waiting on me to help put up the Christmas tree. My five-year-old cousin is periodically running into the room in which I’m writing just to ask me if it’s 8:00 p.m. yet, because he really wants to put up the decorations. I can’t let down the world’s most adorable five-year-old, can I? I’m Muslim and I’m a damn nut for Christmas.
Last Thursday at Thanksgiving dinner, a few of my cousins and I spent a solid 30 minutes trying to explain the evolution of the meaning of the word “extra” to one of our aunts. Traditionally, the word just means “more than is due, usual or necessary.” But recently, we — meaning mostly young people — have adopted it to describe something (or someone) that is over-the-top, excessive and usually kind of annoying. Uses of the word can be benign; the other day I was shopping with a friend, and she asked me if the skirt she was trying on was “too extra to wear to class.”
But other times, the word, and the sentiment behind it, is used to criticize effort and sincerity, like the girl who raises her hand “too often” in class or the guy who posts “too openly” about his life on Facebook. While we tried to explain this to our aunt, she kept getting caught up on what she perceived to be the neutral nature of the word. “Doesn’t extra just mean more?” Well, yes and no.
Regardless of whether you’ve taken a philosophy class, you’re likely already familiar with the trolley problem. While the exact terms of the problem may vary, its ultimate question remains constant: should you kill one person to save many and, if so, would you? As a helpful thought experiment, the trolley problem allows us to weigh the relative utility of either option by framing the number of lives saved as the only relevant gauge of either outcome. To save five lives, you must kill one. Any subsequent tension one feels when confronted by the problem is therefore because of an intuition to not kill rather than a reasoned cost-benefit analysis, as the latter always favors sacrificing one life for the benefit of five.
Thinking “I’m a complicated human being” has preceded all my worst looks this semester. Maybe I should attempt to be somewhat predictable. I should make it a New Year’s resolution. I’ll let you know how that goes. Jokes, but I couldn’t always laugh.
Roy Moore is disgusting –– there is no question about it. Despite what some on the far right might claim, the fact of the matter is that he pursued underage girls and used his position of power to take advantage of them. What is even more disgusting, however, is how much support Moore has retained. A recent poll showed that 42 percent of Alabamians still support Moore in his senate race; a fact that is revolting. How in God’s name can 42 percent of the people of Alabama still support a man that is quite clearly a pedophile?