February 23, 2016

Cornell Grad Students Vote Discontent With College of Business Decision

Print More

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly passed a resolution on Monday expressing dissatisfaction with the decision process undertaken in approving the College of Business.

Alex Brown, grad, who sponsored the resolution, said he did not intend for it to inspire action, but rather to was trying to add something to the record.

“I think the important part of this resolution is it doesn’t have teeth. I think that’s precisely the point,” Brown said. “Our not being involved or not being listened to in the shared governance system, that is what this resolution is hitting at. It was positive to hear other GPSA members’ concern for having a voice in campus governance, and so it’s a good thing that our resolution emphasizes the Board’s years-long pattern of neglecting meaningful student input in critical campus decisions.”

Brown stressed that the establishment of the College of Business is indicative of a pattern of Cornell administrative action without regard to non-executive opinions. “Based on recently poorly handled decisions, it seems that administrators are still clueless about touchstone values of Cornell and other universities, among them transparency, free academic inquiry and democratic decision-making,” Brown said. “Just look at the examples from the past three years alone, from their thwarted attempt to cut first-year bus passes, to the unpopular hiring of new deans and the unilateral levying of a new health fee.”

Brown continued that in order to abolish “unjust” university structures, these kinds of resolutions are only a beginning. He emphasized the importance of obtaining the support of tenured faculty and of recording expressed opinions, especially at a place like Cornell.

“The important part about this resolution is to get something on the record,” he said. “It’s really important [that] in a large institution to make sure that expressions of dissent or expressions of dissatisfactions with the way a process was handled are on the record.”

A common concern voiced at the meeting was the fact that the Board of Trustees voted to approve the College of Business at a meeting in New York City.

“I think it’s important to highlight the fact that it was supposed to be a public hearing that nobody who is involved in the College of Business could afford to be engaged in,” said Aravind Natarajan, grad.

Jesse Goldberg, grad, agreed that even if those with an interest in the College of Business were not intentionally shut out, the meeting still should not have been held in New York City.

“Even if it is not the intention, it is the outcome,” Goldberg said.

Members also discussed how they were disappointed with the administration’s actions and what they demonstrated about the shared governance system.

“This is not the first time we’ve talked to the University about shared governance,” said Goldberg. “This is a conversation we’ve been having for years. Some of us are tired of it.”

After the resolution passed by a vote of 10 to 0, with 2 abstaining, GPSA president Richard Walroth said that he hoped they could now move on.

“I do think that this was a good resolution for us to pass,” Walroth said. “Now moving forward, I hope that we can turn to the College of Business and see it as a good thing.”