June 9, 2010

Old Questions Remain, New Questions Raised

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As Cornell alumni flock back to the Hill every year for Reunion Weekend, two main questions are on their minds: What has changed and what has stayed the same? This special Reunion edition of The Cornell Daily Sun will help answer both questions and act as a guide to the weekend for returning alumni.Much of our coverage in the fall semester was devoted to the outbreak of H1N1 swine flu on campus. 1,628 students were diagnosed by the end of November, with as many as 103 new cases per day in early September. To curb the spread of the disease, Gannett Health distributed hand sanitizer all over campus and recommended that anyone with symptoms stay in isolation. The IFC also put a moratorium on fraternity parties. The measures certainly seemed to work — there were only 153 new cases from the end of November to mid-April.Over the past few months, the University has been featured in the national media for a grim reason: a rash of suicides in Ithaca’s gorges. In the month from mid-February to mid-March, three Cornell students committed suicide, shocking the Cornell community and highlighting the need for a critical review of the on-campus culture of stress and mental health. The University administration’s response to the suicides was swift and effective. The administration promoted and extended the hours of all mental health services and erected the controversial chain-link fences along the bridges.Ongoing suicide prevention efforts will be a central topic to keep your eyes on for the next few months. The administration must come up with a long-term plan for replacing the chain-link fences that satisfies concerned community members both in Ithaca and on the Hill. A more difficult task will involve re-evaluating and accommodating for the often-stressful culture at Cornell. The faculty must take the lead in promoting a healthier academic culture.In the midst of all this, the University is still feeling the aftershocks of the financial crisis, constantly searching for ways to improve despite cuts. Any and all alumni are encouraged to keep up-to-date with the latest in Cornell’s ongoing “Remagining” and strategic planning process. The University that emerges from the process may look very different from the University of a few years ago, and every student, alum, staff and faculty member has a stake in the outcome. The value of a Cornell diploma changes with every slashed budget and decision made by the administration regarding what exactly is entailed by “Any Person, Any Study.”What a better way to stay involved than with The Sun? Since you’ve left, the editors of this paper have worked hard to keep the Cornell community informed and up-to-date on the issues, and include as many perspectives as possible. So, on behalf of the 128th Editorial Board of The Sun: Welcome back! Whether you have been gone five years or 50, we hope you find your home on the Hill just as easily as the first time you were here. And remember to stay in touch by reading and letting us know what you think.

— K.S.W.