S.A. president Jordan Berger '17 speaks at a Student Assembly meeting earlier this year.

First-Year Students Raise Concerns About Orientation Events at Student Assembly Meeting

Members of the Cornell Orientation Steering Committee and Student Assembly addressed concerns from first year students at a forum hosted during Thursday’s Student Assembly meeting at Robert Purcell Community Center. After concluding the S.A. general meeting, President Jordan Berger ’17 opened the forum by asking members of the community — especially first-year students — to come forward and share what they felt was missing from their transition to Cornell. OSC co-chair Ethan Kramer ’17 — along with OSC members Finn McFarland ’18 and Emily Hunsinger ’18 — fielded questions from the community. After a few minutes of discussion, ILR student Joseph Anderson ’20 sparked a long conversation on the required orientation events Tapestry and Speak About It by recalling a hostile exchange between a student moderator and an audience member during a Tapestry question and answer session. “At least in [my Tapestry event], it got very hostile between the student moderator and the students who were questioning,” Anderson said.

GUEST ROOM | Shared Governance, Misrepresented: Why the Student Assembly Is Failing Cornell

On April 7, members of Student Assembly, Cornell University’s undergraduate representative body, held a “Discussion on Restructuring.” The meeting followed the creation of a “First Generation” S.A. seat, and was a response to concerns that minority students lack representation. Minority students, though, aren’t the only students neglected by the S.A.
The Cornell Student Assembly is in dire need of reform. Members consistently disregard the obligations of their offices. In its elections, internal procedures and in the conduct of its members, the Student Assembly is failing to meet the standard set by The Board of Trustees when it established the current system of shared governance in 1981. S.A. elections are frequently uncompetitive and, recently, have become largely symbolic.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Re-Examining the Student Assembly

To the Editor:
It has become glaringly clear that the Student Assembly compositionally does not represent the current needs of students. Over the past couple of weeks, we have begun a conversation about the future structure of the Student Assembly. These conversations began when the Advocacy Committee within First in Class wrote a resolution to add a first-generation liaison at-large seat to the Student Assembly.  These conversations have been fueled by our constituents concern that our current system leaves students feeling as though their needs are not represented. On April 7, we hosted the “Discussion on Restructuring.” “Discussion” does not mean that the opinion of one represents the opinion of all. This discussion, while informative, was only the first of many that will need to occur in order to determine the best system of representation.