October 15, 2004

Assembly Supports Lake Access Group

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In response to growing local concerns about Cayuga Lake development plans, the Student Assembly voted to “act as a conduit to the administration” by encouraging them to work with “concerned students, professors and residents of Ithaca to share the valuable and irreplaceable resources” of the lake, according to the resolution that was passed yesterday.

Prior to its passage, Tim Lim ’06, executive vice president of the S.A., said that the Cornell community would be “disenfranchised” if the development plans for Cayuga Lake were to be implemented as they stand now. As of the S.A. meeting last night, over 1,000 signatures had been collected as part of a petition for the University to change its current plans for the lake.

Separately, student-elected trustee Josh Katcher ’06 reported the selection of two S.A. representatives to the student fees review committee. The committe’s purpose will be to review “non-mandatory student fees.” According to Katcher, a co-chair of the committee, these would include fees such as “the 25 dollars the University charges to replace lost I.D. cards, or the five dollars you pay when you’re locked out of the dorms.” They are also known as “nickel and diming” fees.

Katcher assured the S.A. that the committee’s final recommendations will be taken seriously by the University. The first phase of the review will be completed in January 2005 and the final report will be issued in April 2005. The committee’s meetings will remain open to the public until later this year, when it begins to tackle more technical data.

Additionally, the S.A. passed a resolution yesterday, endorsing the foundation of a National Tuition Endowment.

Michelle Fernandes ’06, S.A. vice president of public relations, presented a resolution asking the S.A. to support the establishment of the NTE. According to the resolution, this fund would use money taken from current federal educational policies in order to produce “billions of dollars for national tuition scholarships.”

The idea was introduced by the Columbia University Senate, which has asked student governments in over 3,000 colleges and universities to support the congressional passage of the 2005 NTE act.

The NTE would acquire its funds through methods such as refinancing bond rates, removing the tax-exempt bonds for private banks, eliminating interest charges from the U.S. Treasury to the Department of Education, among other methods.

The S.A. also dealt with recent concerns surrounding the revisions to the Cornell Migrant Program — a program that “educates and provides services to farmworkers” in the upstate New York area, according to Toby Lewis ’05, S.A. minority liaison.

The University administration created a committee consisting of faculty members, to review the CMP. After discussion, it was resolved that the program should be moved from the College of Human Ecology to the College of Agriculture and Life Science.

Several concerned community members raised doubts that this move would improve the program.

“This [decision] was based on biased information. … They interviewed growers and farmers … and [they] are not the constituency that the program works with,” Tony Marks-Block ’07 said.

Lewis said that the move would “inhibit the purpose of the program,” and suggested that a more logical place to move CMP would be to the College of Industrial and Labor Relations.

“We must continue the student involvement in the Cornell Migration Program,” said Daisy Torres ’05.

After these students presented their argument for the CMP, the S.A. voted to agree to “work toward what is in the best interests of the farmworkers,” and that they “[believe] that the Cornell Migrant Program should not be transferred to the College of Agriculture and Life Science and should be placed in an alternate location within Cornell.”

The S.A. also dealt briefly with the funding controversy surrounding the Cornell American and the Cornell Literary Society.

Josh Bronstein ’05, vice president of finance and chair of the appropriations committee, said, “I have a meeting with the ombudsman [today]. … We have not heard from the ombudsman … I will convene the committee when we do.”