Election Day is almost a month behind us, and a healthy majority of the country — even healthier in Tompkins County — has been celebrating the victory of President-Elect Barack Obama. Still, I was amazed how many Cornell students I spoke with on Nov. 4, who did not vote. In such a historical election, I cannot understand how this is possible. For those people who used the excuse “my vote doesn’t count in liberal Ithaca, New York” — you were wrong. Here is why:
This August, I joined in the tradition that so many Cornell undergraduates are fortunate enough to enjoy: living in Collegetown. Walking back and forth from my College Ave. apartment to my car moving all my things, I felt in many ways the same as I felt moving into Donlon Hall on North Campus my freshman year. Excitement for this new sense of freedom, some anxiety about the unknown and a little bit of awkwardness as I looked around and got the feeling that everyone could see I was an amateur in this atmosphere that was clearly “so college”.
Cornell’s historic buildings sit nestled away in East Hill, looking down at Cayuga Lake and the surrounding Finger Lakes region. It’s a perfectly manicured little bubble, seemingly free, for the most part, from the harsh realities of the outside world. But the view of Cornell from the bottom of the hill is different — a sprawling monolithic institution extending down to the city around it. Ithaca — surrounded by farmland and the remnants of what was once a lively industrial center — used to be a bastion of conservatism, but now plays host to headshops and peace rallies. The city was once the Hollywood for silent films and now sells education as one of its biggest commodities.