September 12, 2011

Student Assembly Endorses N.Y.C. Tech Campus

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Student leaders officially endorsed Cornell’s bid to build a tech campus in New York City, as the Student Assembly unanimously approved a resolution to create an ad-hoc committee in support of the University’s bid on Thursday.

S.A. At-Large Rep. Geoffrey Block ’14, who co-authored the resolution, said that the CornellNYC tech campus would be  beneficial to the Cornell student body.

“Adding this tech campus would be a big boon for students,” Block said. “So many undergraduates are from New York City and many alumni currently live there. We have so much invested in New York City and we have a lot to offer.”

Cornell is bidding against other universities around the world for the project. New York City hopes that its offer of nearly-free real estate — as well as $100 million earmarked for infrastructure improvements — will entice institutions to submit proposals, with the ultimate hope of growing the city’s technology sector.

Cornell submitted an expression of interest March 16 to create a new applied sciences and engineering research center and campus in New York City, and it will submit a proposal to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office by Oct. 28 to continue its participation in the competition. Student leaders say they hope the city will ultimately select Cornell’s bid.

“The administration never specifically asked the S.A. for its support — it is a completely student-driven, student-run committee,” S.A. Executive Vice President Adam Gitlin ’13 said in an email. “The administration acknowledges it and I think they are excited about it, but its creation and the initiatives it will take on is independent of the University.”

Block said that one initiative of the committee will be to create a YouTube video featuring Cornell engineering students and organizations, a project that Block said would showcase “the interdisciplinary nature of Cornell.” Block said that he hopes the video will catch the attention of the selection committee.

“The video would demonstrate why there is a big student push for the NYC campus,” Block said. “The administration can do a great job showcasing Cornell, but we think what separates us from other applicants is how much students want this.”

Other student initiatives may also include a student-run blog, a rally and a letter writing campaign to push for the acceptance of Cornell’s proposal, Block said.

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly President Evan Cortens grad said that his impression is that graduate students are generally very supportive of the CornellNYC tech campus proposal. Unlike the S.A., the GPSA has not yet officially endorsed the plan.

“[Graduate students] are eager to continue working with the administration,” Cortens said in an email. “As far as the details of the official statement and further involvement from GPSA, we are just at the beginning of that process.”

Deputy University Spokesperson Simeon Moss ’73 said that students have already been involved through an advisory committee, and opportunities for student involvement will continue to increase.

“There was a graduate student advisory committee that was formed in May, and it  has had fairly limited involvement so far, but more meetings are planned for this semester,” Moss said. “There have been many students and alumni who have been actively involved in supporting the campus … and this ad-hoc committee will provide more opportunities for students to support the effort, especially if Cornell’s proposal is chosen.”

Block said that the administration has been extremely helpful and committed to keeping the ad-hoc committee an exclusively student run effort.

“[The administration] has been amazing in that they understand this is a student push and tried to keep it that way,” Block said. “We had a great meeting, and while they gave us great advice, they did not want the administration to dictate the student push.”

Original Author: Alyson Warhit