If you’re the type of person who needs a break from the world and also thinks he can do anything, you may find yourself in a lean-to in the Adirondacks on a Friday night without a sleeping bag. And if you find yourself in such a situation, you’ll probably spend your entire night shivering, staring out at the tree-line and the backs of your eyelids in half-hour intervals from dusk to dawn. Last weekend, when this was my story, I spent half the night begging myself to go to sleep and the other half wondering if I couldn’t, and whether the cold had anything to do with it. My hiking trip fell at the end of a stressful week with a handful of late nights and a few all-nighters, so my pervading fear in the lean-to was that, sleeping bag or no sleeping bag, I’d worked myself into lasting sleeplessness. As I rolled and flopped in incessant attempts to find a comfortable position, I remembered my friend from high school, a certified insomniac, who would come to school each day with the same bags under her eyes and the same disappointments on her face because the phrase “tomorrow is a new day” loses its potency when each “day” isn’t separated by a good night’s rest.
Immigration is a deeply personal issue for me. Quick background — my family came over to the United States when I was 6, and I received my U.S. citizenship a month ago. I had been in this country for 14 years before I was legally allowed to feel as though the Pledge of Allegiance I stood next to my classmates and recited in elementary school was as much mine as it was theirs. I knew the American national anthem before I knew India even had one of their own, and even today, I can tell you far more about the Founding Fathers than I ever could about Gandhi. For those who insist the immigration law in this country needs reform because it is not robust enough, I implore you to figure out what the hell you’re talking about — and soon, before you deny millions of deserving people the right to live as equals in a country they have contributed to as much as the people lucky enough to have simply been born here.
If you don’t live under a rock, you probably realize that it is a pretty tumultuous time for Cornell right now. There was a hate crime in Collegetown last week and, with good reason, the entire campus has been talking about it. As it became time for me to sit down and write my column, it seemed a little weird to tell some funny sex stories and not mention all the really serious things happening right now. This past Wednesday, my roommate Mia texted me a link to the Facebook event for the Black Students United rally at the University Assembly meeting. “Yo I’m so down,” I responded, even though I didn’t really understand what the University Assembly was or why the BSU wanted to go to the meeting.
I was seven years old and frolicking on a Soviet playground when Putin was first elected president. By the looks of it, he will still be in power when I’m 31. Funny story how that happened: some legal clerk responsible for drafting up the relevant part of constitution in 1993 wrote down “No person can be president for more than two terms in a row.” True to the letter of the law, a couple decades later Vladimir Putin was elected to a third term, after a four year vacation as prime minister. When journalists found the clerk and asked why in God’s name he added “in a row,” the guy said he didn’t mean anything by it and was just copying from the French constitution.
I spent my time at the Willard Straight sit-in eavesdropping on a discussion about students of color that didn’t care about it. I didn’t pull a muscle to realize they were referencing Asian-American students. Honestly, I was there for only half of the sit-in, so I am part of the problem. Part of this column is to offer an excuse (there are none) but also challenge the Asian-American identity in terms of racial justice. My dad emailed me a Washington Post article and said we needed to talk.
This past summer, I went to see Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Dunkirk. Set during the 1940 evacuation of British troops on the beaches of northern France, Dunkirk is a remarkably powerful story of how a group of teenage British soldiers managed to survive the Nazi war machine. What struck me throughout the movie was not the film’s gripping plot and brilliant cinematography, but rather how relevant the film is to today’s world. With just one wrong move, the world’s youth could once again be called upon to fight wars caused by deranged madmen. The times in which we live are indeed frightening.
The issue of prejudice at Cornell is not an “us versus them” matter. This is a matter for the entire student body. To generalize prejudice to an entire institution is absurd and something we wouldn’t allow for in, say, generalizing fundamentalist behavior to an entire religion. Greeks are not perfect; but rather than painting the entire system as a source of biases, it is important to recognize that Greek life is just a high-profile organization taking the brunt of repercussions for greater issues. These are issues rooted in the modern political climate and Cornell: an elite, historically wealthy and white institution of scholars.
When I was in high school, I had two friends who were both male, and maybe more importantly, Asian. We initially met each other at the behest of our parents, who wanted us to form a robot design team and compete in tournaments. That initial plan failed, but like all Asian males, we reveled in the parental disappointment and became friends anyways. Our distinctions made us tenuous friends. One, named Noah, was always the more social of the group.
Justin Park’s Sept. 22 article on Cornell’s professional fraternities was very well done, insightful, informative, and thorough. I might suggest though that it misuses the word “exclusive” where “selective” is meant and certainly more accurate. One interviewee described the professional fraternity’s recruitment as “competitive” which also more accurately conveys it. “Exclusivity” is code-speak to imply that its only for white, rich, and pretty.