February 2, 2001

S.A. Keeps Labor Day Off Cornell Calendar

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When the University calendar came before the Student Assembly (S.A.) yesterday for approval, several representatives’ were reminded of their campaign promises to add Labor Day to the list of holidays recognized with a day off.

Those representatives were in the minority yesterday, however, and the calendar was approved as recommended — without honoring Labor Day.

Following an approval of the minutes from the Assembly’s Jan. 25 meeting, S.A. President Uzo Asonye ’02 laid out for Assembly members their choices in the calendar vote.

“We have three options,” Asonye said. “We can either approve the calendar as is, disapprove it or approve the academic calendar with an endorsed clause, [specifically] observing Labor Day and giving students the day off.”

Later, Asonye referred to the day’s vote as a referendum on Labor Day, noting that the S.A. had long raised the issue with the Faculty Senate, but never to any avail.

Once discussion got underway yesterday, it became apparent that the Assembly would remain too divisive on the issue, unable to rally the support necessary to getting Labor Day off for the University community in future years.

“I thought, given all the constraints, this was probably one of the best solutions we were going to get,” Asonye said. “Labor is a huge thing on this campus, [and] it is going to be hard to explain the vote.”

Michael Wacht ’02, Architecture, Art and Planning representative was one of the 13 supporting the original academic calendar, without a provision for Labor Day included.

“Labor Day as a day of classes has been very successful,” Wacht said. “Students are already given enough school days off in the fall semester.”

The University faculty highlighted certain options for the S.A., should it choose to honor Labor Day. Still, the choices available did not catch the interest of all representatives.

Some simply decided that Labor Day does not warrant the action Labor Day supporters were considering with a change in the calendar.

“I don’t think that having the day off would prove fruitful for the students,” said P.K. Agarwalla ’04, new student representative.

Leslie Barkemeyer ’03, LGBTQ supported the changes to the academic calendar.

“By taking the day off, we are showing respect for all workers here at Cornell. Your constituents want this, and students care a great deal about this issue,” Barkemeyer said in rebuttal.

Despite the rift in the Assembly that argued for taking the proposed calendar actions, the motion to honor Labor Day at Cornell during the 2002-2004 academic period failed.

Satisfied with the outcome, Michael J. Brown ’02, representative at-large approved of the choice, because it fell in line with a prior decision by a committee of faculty that recommended the calendar to the S.A.

“The decision ultimately rests with the faculty,” Brown said.

Later during the meeting, the Assembly debated the University meal plan.

Nadeem Siddiqui, director of Cornell Dining announced the status of the meal plan, and he gave insight in the programs that are in the works.

“We have a new Super Flex Plan that we plan on offering for a higher cost. People will in turn get added flexibility, such as the possibility of adding additional cash-op meals during the week,” Siddiqui said.

Marty Rauker, a Campus Life special assistant, said, “We plan on extending the meal equivalency to closing time as part of the new plan.”

Siddiqui added that more than 95 percent of freshmen are enrolled in the University meal plan, with approximately 85 percent of upperclassman participating.

“These numbers of course refer to those residing on campus,” he said, adding that students living off-campus can better make use of Dining Dollars in order to take advantage of the meal plan.

Siddiqui and Rauker responded by pointing out plans that have been in progress, but have not been completed as yet.

“We are trying to work with area businesses to allow students the flexibility of using Big Red Bucks outside of campus,” Siddiqui said. “So far we have had some problems with taxes but will continue to improve our plan to cater to students that eat off campus.”

The final S.A. issue of the day dealt with the Student Assembly Finance Commission (SAFC). The Assembly passed a motion proposed, with amendments, to protect student money and avoid cases of fraud, according to Brown.

“We wanted to have a policy that would minimize potential conflicts of interest that would insure the integrity of allocating student money,” said Scott Belsky ’02, co-chair of the SAFC executive board.

The new guideline will be implemented in the fall semester.

Archived article by Chris Westgate