October 19, 2014

EDITORIAL: Celebrating Cornell

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The University’s sesquicentennial celebrations continued this past weekend with the Trustee-Council Weekend and the Homecoming football game. Throughout the semester, the University has programmed events in honor of the occasion, including a reception in New York City and the dedication of a monument on Libe Slope in direct line with the statues of A. D. White and Ezra Cornell. Of course, the University deserves to celebrate this milestone; for 150 years, Cornell has been widely recognized as a top research university and a model for other institutions. However, we at The Sun encourage the University to use this opportunity not only to celebrate its past, but to continue its exemplary traditions into the future.

The University has a progressive history deserving of celebration. It was one of the first American colleges founded as a nonsectarian school. Cornell awarded bachelor’s degrees to African American students as early as 1890 and admitted its first female student as early as 1870, making it the first coeducational school among what came to be known as the Ivy League. Founded with the mission to “discover, preserve, and disseminate knowledge, produce creative work, and promote a culture of broad inquiry, the University has enhanced the lives and livelihoods of its students, the people of New York, and others around the world.” We believe that with a formative past, a culture for improvement as well as talented students, faculty and alumni, the University will be able to propel itself into the future as one of the top research institutions in the world.

However, we encourage students, faculty, staff and administration not only to dwell on past accomplishments but reflect on what it might accomplish in the future. The University faces challenges now that it can address. Engaging the University and students in discussions about the problems Cornell faces — such as policies relating to sexual assault, Greek life, financial aid and mental health — takes on incredible importance as we commemorate the sesquicentennial. We at The Sun urge the University to let its past guide it into the present and future.