I’ve stopped in my tracks now, and I’m looking back at the Arts Quad. It’s a typical Monday afternoon during dry December, and the streams of people flooding into the center of the school has gotten me doing mathematical gymnastics in my head. “How many people did you say were at Cornell?”
He pauses for a second. “21,000, I think, if you count grads and professors.”
I cock back my head in surprise: no seriously? But he was right.
“You were real. That’s what made you so good to watch.”
If you’ve ever seen The Truman Show, you likely remember the film’s final scene, when Truman and Christof, the creator of the counterfeit world in which Truman lives, finally meet, partaking in the exchange above. The film is part social commentary and part absurd apologue, all centered on the story of an everyday man whose life, unbeknownst to him, is actually a popular TV show. As evidenced by sporadic cuts to images of various friend groups watching from their couches, the outside world loved the show and tuned in because it felt so genuine: Truman’s experiences and reactions were all real. Truman didn’t know he was on TV, which was the film’s most important narrative conceit.
Hannah Arendt wrote that terror is the foundation of totalitarianism. The regimes of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin bound individuals into a single quivering mass through which terror coursed unhindered. Some say money is the root of all evil. I say fear is a more likely bedrock. Fear was an important, primal reaction that helped our ancestors survive – and we are all descended from the same; all races can trace their lineages back to the same primate forebears – in a dangerous world.
“Well this is some old-school, Ivy Leaguer, boys and girls, three-feet-on-the-floor stuff,” I thought to myself. We were going to Wells College for a semi-formal. My friend’s girlfriend goes there, and his girlfriend has a friend, and through the potentially awkward workings of social arrangement, it was established that I would be her friend’s date for the evening; so it goes, so it goes. For those of you who don’t know, Wells College is a small, liberal arts institution situated on a dreamy, picturesque campus in Aurora, New York, about 25 miles north of Ithaca. Founded in 1868 as a women’s college by Henry Wells, the institution — in true, 19th century Utopian fashion — was intended to produce the “ideal” contemporary woman.
Jaundice-therapy incubators, water-quality testing devices, and vaccine fridges – this team is merging “entrepreneurial scrappiness” and engineering creativity with a global health outlook. In their own words, Cornell Engineering World Health is a group of dynamic and diverse students who work “to provide creative solutions to health care problems in developing countries.” The team, led by co-presidents Kate Schole ’17 and Justin Selig ’17 , shows initiative and passion for its work and impact on society. As I talk to the co-presidents about their current projects, their excitement is palpable. Schole, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, explains that the team’s recently acquired project is a device to separate mycotoxin-infected corn kernels from otherwise usable corn. They plan on making an inexpensive, efficient and creative method of doing so, which would be important to communities with low food availability, such as in Kenya, where they plan on implementing this device.
In a statement, Mixed at Cornell said they will continue to “extend open arms” to students seeking support, stressing that the mixed community “was born from the love between those of differing backgrounds and experiences.”
William Martin stated: “Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.” Yet it can be difficult to discover new meaning and inspiration within the mundane aspects of everyday life. If I were to profusely read poems by Billy Collins and Robert Frost, perhaps for a cycle I may be inspired by their pastoral descriptions of our natural world to appreciate the multiplicity of hues which color Ithaca’s trees or the torrential gorges as I walk over the suspension bridge. But eventually, I lose the wonder of these sights and remain trapped in the routine of prelims, homework and sleepless nights. But after hearing poet Chris Abani read and perform several of his own compositions this past Thursday, I found the new awe, joy and magnificence within my daily life, including my 2:30 a.m. walks back from Olin library.
Cornell has given many students coming from very different parts of the world an amazing chance to meet different people from diverse areas. I never thought I’d meet so many people from exotic locales such as Westchester and Long Island. In all seriousness though, being at Cornell has exposed me to many students from all around the continental U.S. as well as many international students from countries the average American would probably struggle to locate on a map. All these students bring their distinct experiences and characteristics with them — a welcoming thought for all students who feel they may not fit the mold of the traditional Cornellian. While at times Cornell can feel like the whitest place on earth, every now and then you’ll see a fellow non-white person or someone with an accent and feel a little more comfortable with the school you chose to go to.
“The administration may make one formal communication to Graduate Assistants regarding the University’s position on unionization. ‘Formal communication’ shall be defined as a written document setting forth the University’s official position that is signed by the President or another senior University Officer. i. The document shall be distributed via email to the Cornell campus (one time) and posted to a public CORNELL website(s). …”
This passage is from the “Union-University Conduct Rules and Recognition Election Agreement,” the document signed last May that details the current Union-University relationship. Interim President Hunter Rawlings was far from violating the agreement when he emailed his and the administration’s opinion last Thursday and in fact was distributing it to the entire Cornell Campus as stipulated.