October 20, 2011

Occupy Olin Library

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On a plaque in the museum of the Statue of Liberty are Emma Lazarus’ famed lines from her sonnet The New Colossus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” The words embodied the statue’s meaning to the millions of immigrants who entered America at the turn of the 20th Century — the first sign of hope and refuge after a long journey from their former countries.

Well, we’re not going to be that deep or eloquent. But at Cornell, it has been a tough road, this week and a half since Fall Break. The weather’s shifted — from a resurrected last few weeks of summer to a cloudy and overcast onset of fall. Work has picked up. Baggy eyes, Uris all-nighters, coffee and 5-hour ENERGY® drinks all have been common sightings this week, as students push past another round of prelims. But, amidst it all, there have been some signs of hope and refuge from the deluge of work here on campus. Some are HEROIC actions, others VILLAINOUS behavior, but both gave students a chance –– if just for a moment –– to have a laugh, or maybe a gasp. So, without further ado, here are some of the HEROES and VILLAINS we’ve been keeping our eyes on this week.

The greatest HEROES of them all have been the humans in the epic campus-wide “Humans vs. Zombies” game of tag. Pinned down, with their backs to the wall, outnumbered against a massive invasion of VILLAINOUS Zombies, the humans have been fighting tooth and nail in a fierce battle for their lives –– their only defense, a pair of rolled up socks. Samantha Bobra ’13 risked her life, sending out one last communication to the team: “It’s not clear which of our communications are being overheard by the mindless plague that has descended upon our campus. Despite their love of brains, they are no longer ‘thinking people.’” Stay strong humans, we’ll all be pulling for you.

In light of the HEROIC (or VILLAINOUS — we can’t decide) Occupy Wall Street protests in Zucotti Park, Cornellians donned their activist hats and targeted the root of the problem this week in a rally to Occupy AEM. Those damn AEM majors, sitting smugly in their exclusive classrooms in Warren Hall, VILLAINOUSLY laughing at the displaced Development Sociologists in their trailer park and the starving artists just barely scraping by in Tjaden Hall. They have no idea what it’s like to run out of Big Red Bucks, or to have to pounce on the bag of free bagels that Green Dragon puts out at midnight. They come home to their cushy apartments above Stella’s at night to check their stock portfolios and reread those job offers from Goldman that are tucked under pillows, while the rest of us helplessly scroll through the pages of Career Net, looking for something besides finance and consulting jobs. We applaud the HEROIC students who mobilized against this VILLAINOUS major. But what’s truly HEROIC (or VILLAINOUS — we can’t decide) is that both sides of the Occupy AEM rally still think the other guys don’t get the joke.

Meanwhile, apparently a lot of HEROIC English majors will be occupying their parents’ VILLAINOUS garages after graduation. What do you do with a B.A. in English? We’ve got nothing. Sorry. Hopefully one day, though, those thousands of pages of reading will finally pay off.