Cornell University displays a paradox of collaboration: Whereas academic fields are highly interdisciplinary, the student body is socially sectionalized. At a school where the sum is truly greater than its parts, the instances of collaboration on campus are far too rare at the student body level. A collaborative spirit among the student body is necessary for many social changes; one of these is violence against women.
President Barack Obama recently stated in a campaign stop: “The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.” I could not agree more. The same concept applies to Cornell and every other institution — collaboration is paramount for social change.
Partnerships are ubiquitous across Cornell, exemplified in academic departments, student groups and international institutions. The revolutionary NYC Tech campus is an outstanding relationship between Cornell and Technion University. Moreover, the “2CUL” collaborative project between Columbia and Cornell’s libraries is something you may have used without even knowing. The College Democrats and College Republicans admirably ignore partisan lines to bring important programming to educate students on critical political issues. The Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution partnering with the ILR School and Law School is another instance, among many other institutions, of an exceptional list of collaboration. Yet, something is missing.
The student body needs a collaborative spirit. An attitude of mutuality is necessary to enhance the existing efforts for social change and spark a unified student body. If we all follow the drumbeat of common convictions we strongly believe in, we will become unified. We just need to act on them. If we all collectively took a stance saying there will be no more sexual violence toward women on our campus, just imagine the positive impact.
It saddens me to write this as violent acts against women are occurring far too often. But this is where I truly challenge all students to start this collaborative spirit — working together to end the atrocities. No more violence. Now we must act on it together. Whether the perpetrators are internal or external to the Cornell Community, our conscious efforts to make a safe campus will be noticed. Actions such as the Everyone1 campaign, the SA Blue Bus and the Women of Color Coalition holding a working group meeting is admirable. However, these organizations cannot do it alone. We all have to be proactive. We all have to report suspicious activity if we notice something. We all have to communicate with others. We need to be action-oriented.
This collaborative spirit has the potential to address every day concerns as well. If we all took an hour of our day to support our athletic teams, just imagine the renewed school pride. If we all continue our conscious efforts to recycle, just imagine the environmental footprint we are not leaving behind.
So what should we do specifically? Working together will not happen overnight. Yet, being open to dialogue, bringing organizations together and creating a culture to step up to help one another is the beginning to a collaborative spirit.
Transcending the thought that “someone else will take care of the problem” is our first step to working together. When we collectively take responsibility, we can all start to build upon a unified spirit and leave a legacy that we all worked on together. No matter if the issue pertains to you or not, take action for a stronger and better Cornell.
Simon Boehme is a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.