May 9, 2017

LIU | Any Person, Any Study?

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A motto that is printed on memorabilia, engrained in our minds since orientation, and at the tail end of University statements. A concept upon which our institution is founded.

The end of spring semester is a time for us to reflect on another year at Cornell, and a time for our graduating peers to reflect on the totality of their Cornell experience. I have found myself incessantly asking my graduating friends, “so did you enjoy your Cornell experience?” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the responses vary. Ranging from wide smiles to grimaces, they exemplify the notion that there is no singular Cornell experience. These reactions beg the question: is Cornell truly an institution at which any person can pursue any study?

One need look no further than the opinion pages of The Sun to see a wide array of justified discontent from students. Discussions of divisions created by socioeconomic differences, the issue of inaccessibility of student groups, and the negative impact that current policies have on international students — all these indicate a student body dissatisfied with the implementation of “Any Person.” This year has also seen students questioning the validity of “Any Study.” On Monday, students in support of programs that focus on marginalized identities faced pushback from the Administration at an open forum. Once again, the situation begs the question, “are we truly an institution that supports ‘Any Person, Any Study? ’”

It is important to reaffirm the influence student activism has, and recognize that our actions have helped create a more equitable student experience. Just this weekend Anabel’s Grocery opened in an effort to combat food insecurity. I affirm and support the courage students and faculty have expressed in their fight to preserve programs that are not being supported. It is equally important to recognize that there is an emotional burden that seems to have been placed upon students to bring these issues up.

I am dismayed when I hear that a graduating individual has not felt supported or included at Cornell, due to their socioeconomic status or their sexuality or a marginalized identity. Cornell is a world-class institution that brings together some of the brightest minds from across the country and globe. Our students are future leaders who have limitless potential. It would not only be unfair, but also a disservice, not to make sure that every student has the support necessary  to engage with the resources Cornell offers. It is important that we understand the multiplicity of identities that exist on our campus. It is important to affirm the diverse identities that exist and to make sure that we are prioritizing equity within our administrative decisions.
This May marks the graduation of some of Cornell’s most passionate student leaders, many of whom are mentors who have instilled these values in myself and my peers. To them, I say your fight for equity on our campus continues long after your time here at Cornell. Institutions of higher learning execute change at a glacial pace. Your time at Cornell may be ending, but the impact of your leadership is only beginning.


Dustin Liu is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He is the undergraduate student-elected trustee-elect. He takes office in June. Trustee Viewpoint runs monthly this semester.