November 14, 2016

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | The Tears I Shed Allow Me to Debate

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To the editor:

Amidst all the criticism of elite university students being fragile liberals, a letter to the editor was submitted to The Sun, which claims that students who were hurt to the point of tears ought not to be taken seriously. Frankly, after reading that letter I was painfully frustrated with the notion that students who cried were simply stubborn, disappointed toddlers.

While I cannot speak for the students who organized the Ho Plaza “Cry-In,” I can speak for myself. I was utterly devastated by Donald Trump’s victory.

So I, too, have a confession: I’m an undocumented student with DACA and I cannot vote. I spend plenty of time protesting, writing letters to the editor, writing to legislators, and engaging in political debates. I can qualify my understanding of many policy issues with seven years on my high school and university Speech and Debate teams. I have been forced to argue policy issues from both conservative and liberal sides. Yet, in the moments after Donald Trump was declared the president-elect, I was curled up the fetal position under a blanket, crying. I am not weak or incompetent because of my tears; I am simply a person trying to live my life and have a future, and now that seems impossibly difficult for me to accomplish.

At the crux of the author’s argument is the misunderstanding that this is simply a “disappointment” for people. Unfortunately, this is not just a “disappointment.” This is a threat to my safety and my way of life. I urge you to consider the very real consequences this election has on millions of people. A robust policy debate will not keep me from being stripped of my permit to work and from being deported.

I am allowed to shed as many tears as I need to. I am allowed to admit that I am vulnerable. And I am allowed to engage in self-care in whatever way I please.

However, if this alumna does not want to consider the possibility that for many of us who are marginalized and dehumanized by Donald Trump’s agenda, his victory is one that threatens our life, then I would like to engage in a pure “policy debate” of my own.

The author claims that events like the “Cry-In” are a misuse of student money. The sponsoring organization, Planned Parenthood Generation Action is funded in part through the Student Activities Funding Commission, which has its money allocated to it by the Student Assembly Appropriations Committee, which allocates money from each student’s contribution. One might have noticed through a bit of research that the SAFC doesn’t just fund left wing organizations. The Cornell Republicans are also funded through SAFC, and while I may strongly dislike many of their activities, I do not write letters to the editor every time I see that they’ve used my money to take part in an activity I simply disagree with. In fact, the Cornell Republicans are current allotted more than five times the amount of SAFC money that Planned Parenthood Generation Action receives. Moreover, the hot chocolate being distributed was likely not funded through student activity fee money, given that according to the SAFC guidelines, food and drinks are not reimbursed through SAFC budgets.

There is no preferential treatment in terms of funding occurring here, and the argument that student money is being misused simply sounds like what the author accuses liberals of doing: refusing folks right to express themselves simply because they disagree with them.

If the author would like to discount my argument because I have shed a few tears, consider that, prior to writing this letter, I actually Googled the funding sources which were critiqued, and engaged with factual information. I am allowed to engage in a debate, but I am also very well within my right to cry about whatever I please, wherever I please, especially if my safety is concerned in the matter.

Julia Montejo ’17