Barnes Hall, where the First Generation Student Resource Center might be located.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Barnes Hall, where the First Generation Student Resource Center might be located.

March 7, 2017

First Generation Students Propose New Resource Center

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Members of the First Generation Student Union presented a proposal to create a first generation student resource center to the administration at its meeting Thursday.

Drafted by Travis Ghirdharie ’17, Paola Muñoz ’17 and Mayra Valadez ’18, the goal is to “find a supportive community for their socioemotional needs and gain access to consolidated academic resources while also becoming active creaters of new, innovative initiatives,” according to the proposal.

The center, if implemented, would be a social area dedicated to first-generation students located in the first and second floors of Barnes hall, according to the proposal. The center would also be staffed with a new dean of first-generation college students, mental health and wellness counselors, hiring financial aid and academic advisers, writing coaches and a director of first generation community development and engagement.

Renee Alexander ’74, associate dean of students, who was present at the meeting, said that she was impressed by the amount of effort that went into this proposal.

“The students provided research and data as well as their own personal narratives and experiences to highlight the key issues,” she said. “It was very well-researched and the issues the students brought forth were extremely salient.”

Alexander added that the proposal is not a matter of creating something new but rather about utilizing the already-existing resources.

“A lot of these resources already exist,” Alexander said. “It’s a question of how to make them more accessible to first-generation.”

However, Valadez said that “the fact that we don’t have a centralized location for all of our resources is, in itself a crisis.”

Cornell Woodson, associate director for diversity and inclusion at the ILR school, who also presented at the meeting, praised the students for the thorough proposal.

“I think the administration [has] reacted very positively to the idea,” Woodson said. “It’s a great idea and would really provide first-generation college students with tailored support that meets their unique needs.”

Woodson added that the administration looks forward to continuing to work with FGSU.

In light of the receptive response from the administration, Ghirdharie and Valadez said they believe that the University will “seriously consider their proposal and act to implement in the future.”

  • anonymous

    I’m unsure about this idea. If I were a first-generation college student at this school (my parents don’t have college degrees), a part of me might like the social part of being surrounded by other first-generation college students, but, on the other hand, a part of me would also like to meet people and, hopefully, make friends outside of my socio-economic class and would wonder whether wealthier students might be receiving better career or financial help than the one at the first-generation center. By having a separate center, I also might feel as though I’m being judged as incapable of handling college/life/a career or treated as “less than” wealthier peers using the regular resources.

    • Hadiyah

      I’m sure utilization of this service would be voluntary. And as an underrepresented student at Cornell, I can attest that having a community of people that can relate to your economic and academic challenges is extremely important. If you constantly feel like an outsider, which many people do, it can be mentally and physically exhausting.

      And you can still have other friends lol There’s no rule that says you can only surround yourself with only one type of person. I have friends who are aspiring farmers and others who want to be lawyers. And they all come from different backgrounds 🙂

  • Hank

    This idea is absurd. Students complain about the cost of Cornell constantly yet blithely propose a very expensive initiative that has no value.

    • Hadiyah

      An initiative that has no value? It clearly means a lot to the students that proposed it. So how can you say it would have no value? Can you please elaborate?

      And maybe the students who complain about the price aren’t the same students who proposed this center. There are quite a few of us undergrads on campus. Over 14,000 in fact.

  • Hank

    Hadiyah- I have to question your reasoning ability. You are asserting that this ridiculous idea has value because some insecure students want it? There are students are Cornell that want tampons in the mens room. Does that stupid idea also have value? If 1000 students want free beer, is that an idea with value? Why do first generation students need special consideration? It is very possible that many of them only were admitted because they were first generation. Your last observation is revealing of your extreme naivete. Of course, students who are not paying want something extra for themselves. That sadly has become the American way.

  • Hadiyah Edwards


    Honestly, I don’t care what you think of my reasoning skills. At the end of the day, I’m not graduating from Hank University – I’m graduating in May with a B.S. in Animal Science with a concentration in Reproductive Physiology from Cornell University, one of the most prestigious and academically challenging universities in the world.

    Because I value my time, and yours, I am choosing not to engage in further conversation with you. It’s clear that we have strongly opposing views that aren’t going to change any time soon. Continuing to banter back and forth would, in my opinion, be a waste of time.

    I will choose to address one of your statements, however. You stated, “it is very possible that many of them only were admitted because they were first generation”. How can you so ignorantly disregard the academic excellence achieved by many first gen students and say that only their first generation status qualified them to attend this university? Surely my 3.88 GPA, rigorous honors and AP course load, and plethora of extracurricular activities, coupled with my strong standardized test scores and unique personal statement were enough to gain admittance to Cornell. In fact, I don’t remember ever mentioning my first gen status Cornell in the first place.

    Peace and blessings to you and your family, Hank.

  • Hank

    It is not ignorance Hadiyah. It is reality. There are thousands of applicants to elite universities that do not get admitted. Many have all the qualifications that you did (and more). But some get an edge that has nothing to do with merit. That is the whole idea of affirmative action. It could be people of color, residents of North Dakota, legacies and yes, first generation students. If there was no edge, colleges would not ask about it. If first gen were just as qualified as everyone else, why would these additional resources be requested?