GUEST ROOM | Cornell Must Stand Up to Betsy DeVos’ Title IX

For the past 680 days, I, along with many other Cornell students, have been struggling to wrap my head around how Betsy DeVos found herself as Secretary of Education — especially after heading the All Children Matter PAC which received widespread criticism for interfering with state elections. On November 16, DeVos announced the Department of Education’s highly anticipated overhaul of Title IX, the 1972 law detailing sexual assault and prohibiting federal funded universities from discriminating on the basis of sex. Her reforms consist of four major changes aimed at bettering due process for persons accused of sexual misconduct. The first of which redefines sexual harassment, the second requires more concrete evidence when arbitrating sexual misconduct cases, the third allows universities to disregard Title IX cases that occur off campus property and the fourth requires cross-examination to be a part of live hearings at the post-secondary level. Obama Administration Title IX guidance defined sexual harassment as any “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” This definition is fairly clear — if it is unwanted, it is harassment.

GUEST ROOM | Thank You For Caring

Back in August, I attended an event where Ryan Lombardi encouraged us to prioritize community over competition, especially at Cornell. Regardless of what you think of the suggestion, I think we can all agree that both qualities exist at Cornell. After observing instances of both on campus, I started drafting a reflection on the importance of redirecting our competitive tendencies into community cultivation. Later in the semester, long after my earlier thoughts sunk to the depths of my Google Drive, I read Priya Kankanhalli’s article about two friends she overheard discussing job offers. In the exchange, one ultimately suggested the other only got the job due to “connections.” Kankanhalli reflected on the conversation in the context of the Cornell journey: “… maybe there’s little to do besides resign ourselves to the competitive culture here.”

Later on, I switched gears.