March 24, 2014

Panelists Talk Gender Discrimination at Computer Science Forum

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By CHRISTOPHER YATES

A panel of six students discussed a wide range of issues within the Cornell computer science community Monday spanning gender discrimination, tensions between teaching assistants and students and other social and academic topics.

According to Andrew Levine ’14, one of the event’s organizers, the panel was held in order to provide a forum through which students could discuss issues of minority treatment as well as student and teaching assistant relationships in the computer science community.

“The talk was focused on making the [computer science] community a more inclusive place since it hasn’t always been,” he said. “The computer science department is growing and different groups have felt [that] the community [is] not entirely welcoming.”

Greg Hill ’14 address the issue of gender inequality within the Computer Science community at a panel Monday. (Simon Li / Sun Staff Photographer)

  • Brad

    Wow. For someone who attacks a satirical mini-series due to it’s lack of information, you are blind to the realities of factory farms and mass-produced meat. Your parents 400 head farm is probably nothing like the CAFOs and other gigantic farms that absolutely do abuse animals, feed them crap, and pump them full of hormones, drugs and other chemicals. Yes, most farms are independently owned, but about 50% of all production comes from the largest 2% of farms.

    How did the Sun let this get published? I hope it was only as an opinion piece, not something that was supposed to be vetted and researched.

    • Calvin Patten

      Hello Brad,

      I wrote the above piece. First, my parents farm is actually a medium CAFO, with about 850 total head including heifers, milking cows and a few beef cows. I personally have been fortunate to visit a variety of operations both in type (beef, swine, dairy) and size. In response to your concerns, animal abuse makes no sense at all. Growth and production rates are maximized when animals are comfortable and happy. Certainly many cows and beef animals receive hormones and antibiotics, but any such drugs are given in accordance with federal laws and guidelines (see http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/information/IBC48.pdf about hormone use in beef, it was written by an Iowa State Professor). As I reference above, large farms (ie the 2%) are a necessary component of feeding so many people.

      This was published as a “guest column”. However, everything I wrote was personally fact checked. If you can find reputable sources to dispute it, I would be happy to listen. Cheers,
      Calvin

      • Barbacoa

        I actually attended the Chipotle Cultivate Festival and felt the same sense of ‘sliminess’ towards Chipotle propaganda. There was a lot of fluff and unfounded claims in the the films and displays they used to illustrate the company’s position. I remember there was a claim regarding antibiotic use in livestock producing a ‘superbug.’ At the time was no conclusive evidence to suggest that antibiotic use in agricultural was linked to antibiotic resistant infections in humans. Sure enough, months later the CDC would issue an unprecedented report on Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States stating:

        “Because of the link between antibiotic use in food-producing animals and the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans, antibiotics should be used in food-producing animals only under veterinary oversight and only to manage and treat infectious diseases, not to promote growth”

        http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/pdf/ar-threats-2013-508.pdf#page=36

        Clearly there is no consensus on many of the issues that you raised. Just because FDA guidelines at one time or another support a given position does not mean their infallible. A more conservative approach to our agricultural policy would be to avoid the use of unnecessary hormones or other inputs that do carry risk. The EU banned antibiotic use for growth promotion for quite before the CDC’s report despite the lack of totally conclusive evidence that it was harmful. Moreover, many of these inputs are not at all necessary for the sustainability of our food system but just serve to marginally reduce costs for farmers at potential risk to our health. I agree that there are likely some inputs, like the hormone you mention, that are on balance probably worthwhile to use. However, it would be naive to say that we know enough to say there is absolutely no health risk to its use.

        I don’t agree with Chipotle on all accounts, particular the issue of GMO’s which I feel you represented fairly. However, I do feel this is a discussion we should be having, and while I disagree with the way Chipotle is proceeding with it in many ways, I’m still pleased that a there is now a major voice from the other side to propel this discussion into public dialogue.

      • Nate Woodard

        I can’t tell if you are willfully or ignorantly blind to your claims of animal “comfort”. Regardless, you are absolutely clueless. And yes you’re right, they are given drugs in accordance with federal laws and guidelines. LAWS AND GUIDELINES THAT YOUR SCUMBAG LOBBYSTIS DRAFTED AND PUSHED!!!! You are an awful person.

        • Lars

          Nate,

          From your response it is fairly easy to tell that you are the rather ignorant one in this conversation, quickly making your rather extreme claims with zero evidence to support them (and then to wrap it up call him an awful person, I thought that was a nice touch).

          First off let me clarify the claims of animal comfort. I’ll put it in a way that you could possibly relate to. First off, you must realize that humans are technically animals. I am assuming that you have some sort of occupation and at that particular occupation you are trying to maximize your productivity. In order to achieve this, one of the factors is having a comfortable environment. If someone was harassing you at your job it would cause you to be stressed, resulting in decreased productivity. Or let’s say you have a desk job, if that desk was moved outside of the building and you were forced to work in the freezing cold, it would also hurt your productivity.

          In terms of comfortability affecting growth and development, think about this – do you think you would have grown up to be a healthy adult (or even make it to adulthood) if you were raised in an uncomfortable environment (such as lack of shelter, malnourishment, etc.)? I think we see this issue in humans quite a bit in the less fortunate parts of the world.

          Let’s use dairy cows as an example to compare this to. Dairy cows produce milk, and in order to maximize that production, the cows need to be as comfortable and as minimally stressed as possible. Why then, would a farmer ever not want to make his cows as happy as he can? How does it make sense that a farmer wouldn’t want his cows producing as much as they can?

          Usually, when people make claims about issues, they try to support that claim with credible evidence. So in case you didn’t make the connection between comfortability in cows and humans in the example I gave, here’s something else you can do. Simply google “cow comfort studies”, and you will see that there are numerous studies that have been done at prestigious universities across the country that support the claim that animal comfort increases production. I doubt you will do this though. Judging from the ignorance you displayed in your comment, I’m assuming you don’t take the time to do research on topics like this before forming an opinion.

          This response is getting kind of long so I’d like to quickly address your claim about drug use in animals. Drugs use in animals is another topic (probably more so) that has been widely researched at universities. The federal laws and guidelines are created based on research. One of the main roles of lobbyists is to convince people who are uninformed/ uneducated in a particular field, such as agriculture, about what the right thing is to do basing it on evidence they can provide. This is necessary because the majority of people are uniformed/ uneducated about a topic, and most will then quickly make claims without providing any hard evidence (such as what you did). If false claims are then followed through, then it leads to incorrect laws and guidelines.

          Cheers

          • Nate Woodard

            Jesus Christ Lars. Please take a technical writing class at some point before you graduate high school. It will teach you that long winded diatribes and superfluous word usage only bore your reader. Mission accomplished.

            Well those studies show animals should be comfortable huh junior? Well hot damn. By your logic farmer john should be investing in waterbeds and hottubs for them! That makes me comfortable (since you’re so fond of falsely equivalent human analogies). You truly believe farmers are maximizing animal comfort? Jesus. Just go Google pics from these huge industrial farms. If you truly believe that please contact me so I can tell you about this hot new stock tip I’ve got for you involving oceanfront property in Nevada.

            As far as the drugs and lobbyists we can agree to disagree I guess. I really didn’t read what you had to say but it was probably apologetic to slime ball lobbying supposedly supported by “the science”

            Awful

          • Nate Woodard

            By the way, before you feel the need to launch into another War and Peace novel to sway the unwashed masses, I can tell you your efforts will be much better spent somewhere else. You sound like the type that actually likes to discuss and argue on the internet. I have no interest in e-debates and feel sorry for those that do. It wreaks of loneliness and desperation.

            That’s why I prefer drive-by bullying instead. Its much more prodctive use of my time to make fun of people saying stupid things (“but what about the animal comfort lol”). Later loser

          • Lars

            Nate,

            To be completely honest this is the first time I have ever posted something like this on the internet, I’ve never discussed or argued anything on some comment thread or anything like it before. After reading your comment, I just felt like I had to say something.

            I feel sorry for people like you that have such closed minds. I don’t understand how you can be so ignorantly stuck in your beliefs that you refuse to look at the evidence that is out there.

            And before you call me closed minded or ignorant in regard to this topic, please realize I am open to hearing your take on the matter and could be convinced that there is no such thing as animal comfort if you can show me evidence supporting the claim. I need more than just Nate’s word to be convinced though.

            Have fun being “productive” with your drive-by bullying.

            Even though I feel like I’m talking to a wall with you, I’ll quickly put my two cents in about industrial farms since someone else might read it. Yes, if you google image industrial farms it looks crowded, but if you compare that to industrial farms 30 years ago or so (chickens for example used to be so packed into crates that they were lying on top of each other). The living conditions have been greatly improved since and continue to be improved. Temple Grandin is a professor at Colorado that has done a lot of work showing reducing animal concentrations/ improving conditions improves their productivity. Farmers listen to research like this, and make the changes to make their farm more productive.

          • Calvin Patten

            Actually, my cows do live on water beds. . .
            They would not like hot tubs, as they very much enjoy it being cool. Hence, we do things like put up dozens of huge fans and spray water on them to keep them cool in the summer.
            Like I said, cow comfort is what any good farmer focuses on.

  • Sterling Ericsson

    Awesome article and a benefit to the Cornell community.

    Now if only the majority of the general American population would actually focus on the science and facts of such things rather than fearmongering and emotional pandering, but I guess that’s a bit too much to ask of your average Joe.

  • My BS meter went to 11 when you claimed Chipotle was a McDonald’s spinoff. A quick google search confirmed my suspicion that your “article” wasn’t worth the energy consumed by my computer for me to read it.

    • Terren

      McDonald’s was the major investor in Chipotle until 2006. That’s not really a secret.