April 12, 2016

HICKMON | In a Perfect World

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Graduation is 46 days away. Forty-six days away, that lowkey (highkey) creeps me out. I was walking to a meeting yesterday just marveling at the fact that in a few weeks, this venerable institution is going to be my alma mater. If I am being honest, I kind of still cannot believe it. Still cannot believe that they admitted me to this University. Still cannot believe that it has been four years. Still can not believe that it is finally my turn to cross that stage and turn my tassel. I cannot believe this place and the opportunities it affords to each and every one of us.

On Monday night, Engaged Learning and Research held its fourth Community Engaged Showcase and that coupled with other things has me thinking about what this campus would like in a perfect world. I am left wondering if any of the work I’ve done (or we all do) actually ever moves this place forward and makes a difference. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Cornell. But, to love something is to criticize it and soon I won’t have this column anymore so, I’m going to get all of my opinions out now.

If I woke up tomorrow and by some chance Cornell was this “perfect” place what would that look like? There would be more faculty and staff of color. All of BSU’s demands would be met and people would really understand why those demands will make this campus safer and more inclusive for all. We wouldn’t have false or “valid” threats of White Student Unions. More students would spend their time engaging with communities in ways that are relevant to their professional and academic groups, and the growth of engagement at Cornell would be student focused and faculty or staff facilitated. Finances would not be a barrier to student participation in internships, study abroad, winter break trips, etc. We wouldn’t need to have a sexual assault awareness week, because people will understand that no means no.

Cornell would be less siloed. People could still operate within their own community but there would be more cross-pollination of ideas and populations so that information reached us all at the same time. There would be a diversity requirement for all of Cornell that was tailored to each college, but still met University-wide standards. There would be more transparency from the administration to students, faculty and staff so that people affected by decisions actually have a seat at the table and can work WITH the powers that be to make decisions instead of having them made FOR us. There would be less snow and gray skies and more sun (I know this probably will never happen). MGLC organizations would have the same resources as IFC and PanHel organizations. Students of color and CUPD would have a positive relationship. Mental health would be something we stopped simply talking about and something we actually began to take care of. And, Cornell would be a bit less competitive, or at least based in healthier competition.

I am sure that I am forgetting things, but that is my vision for a better, more perfect Cornell. To those of you that still have time left on this beloved Hill, I would encourage you to think about what Cornell at its best looks like to you and then work to make that “dream” a reality. We are not going to become more perfect overnight, but I have faith that if we continue to struggle with the big, tough ideas, and make space to have complex, complicated, and often hard conversations, that one day we will get there. At least, I hope so.

Gabrielle Hickmon is a senior in the College of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at [email protected]. Gabbing with Gabby appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.