From Friday to Sunday, teams of programmers, designers and students from a variety of backgrounds raced against the clock to produce impactful software. BigRed Hacks, the oldest student-run hackathon at Cornell, drew upon a large number of students from across the country. “Part of what I feel our mission is, is to relieve tension and show people that you really don’t have to be a genius to have fun and learn things at hackathons. The only thing you need is the will to try,” said Jeffrey Van ’19, a student organizer at the event. Abhishek Velayudham, a sophomore majoring in computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park, reflected on what motivated him to attend the event.
When I was a junior in high school, I taught a film and media class at my former elementary school. I gathered a group of 11 year olds around a computer to write a script and asked them, “What message do you want to share to your audience?” They told me they wanted to make a movie about a dog traveling around the world; somehow dynamite and chicken wings were involved but I can’t remember how. “No, I mean what do you want the meaning to be?” I asked again. They didn’t understand what I was trying to say. They suggested dinosaurs instead of the dog.
Over 300 students, from grades seven to 12, visited Cornell’s campus on Saturday to attend classes taught by current Cornell students in subjects ranging from chess to rocket science to play-writing. The educational program is in its fifth semester of operation.
Sometimes education is a blessing and a curse. In Lima, I admire los Cerros De Huaycán with mountains that surround the landscape. However, I cannot ignore hearing the man at the intersection catcalling the woman in the street in Spanish. In Paris, I marvel at le Champs-Élysées with its great diversity of high-end stores. But I cannot avoid the Algerian family of five asking for money in French, the young girl in her hijab with her forehead to the concrete, her arms outstretched with a cup seeking donations.
Last week I caught a mistake in one of the readings for my NS 3090: Global Health Case Studies class. The article was entitled “What Can Medical Anthropology Contribute to Global Health?” by James Pfieffer and Mark Nichter. It discussed how national health systems were underperforming because of a lack of infrastructure. Together, the authors hold two bachelor’s degrees, three master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. However, while discussing health challenges the authors grouped “Africa” in with “other resource poor countries.” Africa is a continent, not a country.
Arbitrarily, the entire premise of college is to expand one’s knowledge of the world and gain new perspective, both of which can be inhibited without open, uncensored dialogue about controversial topics. While such topics can be difficult to digest for many individuals, certain provoking topics such as sexual assault, cancer and war are the brutal realities of the world in which we live. Although it is not innately effortless to immerse oneself in discussion related to such matters, it is vital that students participate to broaden their educations and perspectives. Thus, while professors should be mindful of the ways they expose students to controversial materials (and perhaps caution students of universally graphic material), they should not be required to administer trigger warnings or options to “opt out” of “triggering” topics. College is not the time nor the place to evade disconcerting topics; allowing students to disengage with materials on the basis that they are not rationally capable of handling such discussions is inimical.
I walked up the stairs to the sixth floor of Balch carrying a box of my belongings. A shy and anxious freshman on move-in day, I was eagerly awaiting my first human contact at Cornell. I met my first hallmate once I reached my floor and we exchanged nervous smiles and greetings. “Where are you from?” I asked. “California,” she replied, “what about you?”
“I just moved from Kuwait,” I answered.
Last weekend, I attended the 2016 Black Biomedical Technical Association Conference entitled “Disparities in Access and Distribution of Healthcare.” The conference showcased phenomenal M.Ds, Ph.Ds, D.Os and public health leaders from across the country and united students from all across N.Y. state. During my time there I decided to listen in on a workshop called “Case Study” with John P. Mitchell, M.D., Arts ’69, one of the numerous speakers at the gathering. The talk was geared towards students on the medical track. However, halfway through the presentation the profile of a real anonymous student popped up. The Cornellian was an underclassman deciding on what he wanted to major in. I smiled as I saw among the top choices on the list were the words, “Africana Studies Major.” The panel of speakers then proceeded to assert that being a pre-medical student and being an Africana major is beneficial and looked favorably upon when applying to medical school.
The Cornell Prison Education Program received a $1 million grant from The Mellon Foundation on Thursday, which will allow the program to double its presence in central New York correctional facilities, according to Rob Scott, executive director of CPEP. “We offer more than 30 courses right now with over 100 students within prison walls,” Scott said. “With this grant, we’ll jump to over 60 classes a year and probably more than 200 students once it’s fully implemented.”
The program currently offers courses taught by Cornell faculty and graduate students at Auburn Correctional Facility and Cayuga Correctional Facility. So far, CPEP has held two commencement ceremonies — the first in 2012 and the most recent in 2014 — and conferred more than 15 associate degrees to inmates each time. The grant money will enable CPEP to expand its services to Five Points Correctional Facility and Elmira Correctional Facility.