We always think that we should be able to tell a linear story about ourselves. Not a story anyone would ever want to read; nothing heroic, or profound, or notable, or worth carrying around in your bag to read on the bus. Not a story to tell for other people. But as far as I can see, telling a story gives life direction and intentionality, at least in retrospect. Things happen with an internal logic that makes them ultimately worth it.
The decision of the Consensual Relationship Policy Committee to recommend “CRP-A” to President Pollack against the wishes of a majority — three of five — of Cornell’s constituent assemblies is disappointing, as is the committee’s failure to adequately explain their choice to do so. While the CRPC was forthright in stating that the votes held by the Student, Employee and University Assemblies, as well as the Faculty Senate, were nonbinding and would only be “considered” by the committee, its decision goes against clear majorities of graduate and professional students, employees, and faculty, all of whom deserve to know why their opinions were disregarded. “CRP-A” and its counterpart, “CRP-B” are identical except for in how they deal with relationships between graduate/professional students and faculty who work in the same graduate field or degree program. CRP-A, the policy the committee decided upon, is the more restrictive of the two, outright banning such relationships, while CRP-B allows for such relationships “provided there is disclosure and an appropriate recusal plan.” (Both policies include blanket provisions banning relationships between faculty and undergraduates, a welcome and commendable clarification of the current, 1990s-era policy.)
There are strong arguments for each variation; balancing the rights and freedoms of consenting adults with necessary protections against predation and bias is a difficult task indeed, and we applaud President Pollack, the committee and the various assemblies for taking the initiative to address this issue. But the outcome as it stands today is far too tenuous for comfort.
The funniest people I know are women, which might seem strange given how overwhelmingly male the profession of comedy seems to be. The top ten highest paid comedians in 2017 were nine men and one woman — Amy Schumer, who also happens to be exceedingly white and exceedingly problematic. Performers at the White House Correspondents Dinners, keeping with this trend, have been historically male as well. Not to say that funny women haven’t graced the stage; recently we had Wanda Sykes, Cecily Strong and, this year, Michelle Wolf. So, we are getting somewhere in terms of equality.
I unfollowed Kanye West after the first MAGA tweet. Without hesitation, I jumped on the bandwagon calling for his “cancellation.” I spent most of Tuesday looking like the white guy blinking meme as I watched Mr. West word-vomit all over Twitter and call four hundred years of chattel slavery “a choice” on TMZ. This column was going to be a scathing condemnation. Instead, my curiosity led me to watch ’Ye’s extended conversation with Charlamagne, also released on Tuesday. Over the course of a virtually uninterrupted 105-minute stream-of-consciousness, I came to see things differently.
I generally agree with the idea that the government should engage more actively with its constituents regarding federal policies to challenge the submerged state, but I believe the effects of the Affordable Care Act did not go unnoticed. Many initiatives in the ACA took years to implement, and they took effect gradually over the course of several years. A few of the milestones, such as long-term care insurance (2011), 3.8 percent surcharge on individuals who make over $200,000 (2013) and prohibition of insurance companies from denying individuals with preexisting conditions (2014) were all implemented after the 2010 midterm elections. Indeed, one of the most important pieces of the ACA — the Medicaid expansion — became effective in January 2014 and the Congressional Budget Office is continually updating the increase in health insurance coverage rate today. While there are provisions in the ACA that may go unnoticed, milestones like Medicaid expansion probably did not escape the public eye.
Last week, many of us felt the harrowing effects of what can only be described as a national tragedy: the downfall of Kanye West. As someone who has loved Kanye’s music since sixth grade, viciously supported him through the ups and downs of his beef with Taylor Swift, praised the diversity of his (albeit insanely overpriced) fashion line and even forgave him for his completely nonsensical rant on Ellen, I was, to say the least, disappointed when I saw his Twitter tirade of painfully unrelenting support for Trump. I will admit that when I first read the Tweet That Started It All, I wasn’t immediately horrified or shocked. In fact, I chuckled at the unironic use of the phrase “dragon energy,” and I couldn’t really argue with Kanye’s claim that he “loves everyone.” I told myself that this was just another inflammatory statement tweeted out for favorites, tabloid headlines and “Kanye West is so crazy” reactions. Simply put, I assumed he just said it for attention.
The Arts & Sciences Curriculum Committee’s recommended changes to the College’s language requirements, in particular the halving of the credit requirement from 11 to 6, are misguided and should not be adopted by the arts college faculty today. Foreign language is and should remain an integral part of a liberal arts education, and the proposed changes will only do a disservice to students and departments throughout the college. The committee (on which no language professors sit) notes that students often find the current requirements burdensome; many students aim to take a single intermediate-level semester of a language they studied in high school, and some even transfer out of the College to avoid those courses. While this may be true, the response to such apathy should not be to lessen what is expected of undergraduates. If students have issues with foreign language classes at Cornell, those issues should be addressed, not swept under the rug by lowering the requirements altogether.
Over the past year, many people have voiced concerns about student mental health, including criticisms of the university’s clinical services and efforts to prevent suicide. Wait times for counseling services are among the challenges we at Cornell Health have been working to address. With university support we have added new therapist positions which has shortened wait times and also increased the diversity of our staff. Access to mental health care is critical, because treatment works and many students are in need of it. It’s also important to reach students who may be reluctant to walk through our doors, so our Let’s Talk program places counselors in locations around campus for walk-in consultations.
Following politics can be frustrating. You see decisions made on the basis of private motives and private information. Whatever efforts you make in inferring the missing pieces are often thwarted by the fact that some actions are motivated by nothing but plain human stupidity. So instead I kick back and stream the new season of Homeland (which involves plots about as unrealistic but a whole lot more entertaining than those on CNN). But then sometimes, especially when it comes to my homeland Russia, I just can’t help it.
As a senior in high school, I was vying for the “Class Clown” superlative but I would not be that lucky. In addition to “Class Gossip,” I also won “Talks Most Says Least.” It is pretty fucked up that this award had been approved by the administration. Four years later, I am about to graduate college. I am more proud of this superlative than I am of many of my other accomplishments. Looking back now, I can see that this label was and still is a common way to dismiss women with opinions, but this is me reclaiming it.