October 7, 2014

ELIOT | Skid Marks

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On one of the first nights of my freshman year at Cornell, the entire class of 2015 was treated to a nice lobster dinner in RPCC. It was as if the University was trying to tell us, “Welcome! It is all going to be okay … but you belong to me now.” None of us really seemed to mind; our new overlord seemed benevolent and was willing to (allegedly) raise the price of lobster by two dollars per pound on the East Coast to make us feel at home. Three years later, the overlord seems more and more like a traditional overlord.

The point of this is not to say that Cornell infiltrates into every aspect of your life (it does), but rather to point out the fact that the next year and all the following years, no class was treated to shellfish quite like we were. I bring this up in order to a) rub it in all non-seniors’ faces and to b) point out that even in the past four years Cornell has changed a lot.

Before any of us got here, Cornell saw a lot of history. In the past 150 years, some of the brightest people in the world have studied, lectured, researched, written and performed at Cornell. Although they may not be off to a great start this year and the outlook may be bleak, if our football team manages to squeak into the new college football playoff, they would be competing for their sixth national championship. (If you haven’t bought your ticket to the big homecoming game yet, don’t worry; tickets are free.) The streets in Collegetown are made to the exact width of a horse-drawn buggy, the Grateful Dead made their best live recording ever in Barton Hall in 1977 and the guy from Workaholics went to Dunbars last spring.

During my time at this school, I have seen the birth of a new campus on the island of an abandoned leper colony (I think) in New York City, the fences replaced by nets, THREE visits from Bill Nye ’77, one actual sighting of Bill Nye and countless other landmark events — some of them kind of disappointing. They moved spring break so that it aligned with nobody else’s spring break and forced us to contend with even more challenging winter weather. They added a February break three weeks into spring semester leading to a shortened study period. Concerts like Ke$ha and the Flaming Lips now take place on Sunday nights. Obviously “Ke$ha: Live at Barton Hall 2012” was never going to be the game-changing album it was supposed to be if it is recorded on a Sunday night.

I think all of these changes (maybe not the Tech campus, nets, Bill Nye visits or calendar changes) can all be traced back to September of 2012: Avicii for Homecoming. The concert was madness. The Swede “played” electronic music for roughly four hours. Six students were taken to the hospital. Barton Hall was physically damaged. And perhaps most notoriously, somebody pooped in the bleachers.

Just who did evacuate their bowels in the bleachers of Barton Hall that fateful night in September? What compelled them to do it? How did they wipe? These were just some of the questions posed by the phantom pooper. They never struck again, leaving these burning questions unanswered.

On the east side of Beebe Lake is a small, 572 person “census-designated place” called Forest Home. If you have ever visited, you have probably seen a green and white street sign that reads, “Forest Home Settled 1794.” Every time you go to an early-to-mid 1790’s party, you could be dressing like someone who 220 years ago lived less than a mile or so from where you live now. Sixty-one years later, Ezra Cornell summoned all of the cranes in the world, parked them on East Avenue, and opened our lovely institution for business.

In the 150 years since, Cornell has been operating and developing a relationship with its people. In the most recent years, Cornell has lost trust in its students. I really can’t blame the school for implementing some of the changes it did. Hazing is illegal; we were told not to haze and we kept hazing. We scheduled a superstar techno concert, sent six kids to the hospital and literally took a dump on Barton Hall. We were given (kind of) free lobster, and not all of us said “Thank you.” In response, we lost the Saturday concerts, a logical spring semester calendar and senior week. I hope the beginning of Elizabeth Garrett’s tenure as President for our school will be characterized by a constant dialogue between the administration and the students. After screening 200 candidates, the Board of Trustees’ faith in Garrett to lead our school leaves me hopeful that the school will be in good hands. Most of us like our Cornell overlord. It gives us Slope Day, a wonderful education and, if you’re lucky, lobster.

Christo Eliot is a senior in the College of Engineering. He can be reached at [email protected]. The Tale of the Dingo at Midnight appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.