2-23 GPSA
February 23, 2016

Cornell Grad Students Vote Discontent With College of Business Decision

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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.”

  • an alum

    So let me get this straight – PhD candidates in German Studies, Microbiology, Neurobiology and Chemistry are upset about not being sufficiently consulted about the College of Business merger?

    These grad students, who supposedly represent all graduate AND professional students, make no mention of even TALKING to students in the affected programs? Pro tip: there are about 600 MBA students coming in and out of Sage Hall daily, not to mention MPS students at SHA and PhD students, or the roughly 500 MBA students in EMBA programs and at Cornell Tech. These are not hard people to find.

    This suggests that the issue is less whether the GPSA is justified in having hurt feelings about not getting its way here, or a free bus ride to the trustee meeting in New York, but instead more about whether or not it actually represents the population it says it represents, ie graduate and professional students. I’d note for example that according to its website the GPSA has zero voting members representing Johnson students, notwithstanding there being well over 1,000 current MBA candidates at Cornell.

    And shame on the Cornell Sun for simply acting as a GPSA mouthpiece here. “Does this organization actually represent the people it purports to” is a basic question that deserves to be asked and answered as part of a piece like this and represents the difference between journalism and public relations.

    • la

      the article leaves out enthusiastic support from grad hotelies disappointed by the merger. just because the article doesn’t talk about it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. I get your final point about the lack of journalistic quality here, though. annoying that the reporter didn’t seek out the opinions you’re talking about.

      • an alum

        I don’t doubt that there are grad hotelies that were against the merger and they do deserve to have their voice heard. More (much more) in-depth reporting on the perspectives of the students (and alumni) of the different programs is highly justified here. This whole “the Supreme Soviet didn’t like how they were treated by the Central Committee” angle is tired and played.

    • Old Professor

      Dog bites person story: The (fill in the blank) Assembly expresses its dissatisfaction/disappointment/outrage that the (fill in Cornell administrative unit or units) once again violated the spirit of openness/transparency/shared governance/democracy by their decision to (fill in any decision).