March 22, 2018

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Against the Combination of Human Ecology and ILR

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To the Editor:

To combine the College of Human Ecology and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations would be a grave error and cruel abuse of administrative power. Such a decision would wreak havoc on the lives of students and faculty associated with both colleges. Moreover, it would disservice Cornell University for decades to come.

The decision to combine various disciplinary studies across the University in the interest of synergy — a buzzword used repeatedly in the recently released report by the Committee on Organizational Structures in the Social Sciences — is not novel. Several of the promises made in regard to this new merger between CHE and ILR are those same deliverables that were issued concerning the College of Business: the “potential to promote new collaborations, synergies, and cutting-edge research,” the “[expansion of] opportunities for undergraduate students,” and the combination of units that already shared similar missions and commitments. Thus far, the College of Business has failed on all of these counts. The school still lacks a collective identity, representation of its progress or ability to communicate its decisions as programs function independently with misaligned goals. If the College of Business should serve as an example of how a CHE and ILR merger would develop, we should abandon this decision immediately.

Moreover, where there was a clearer motivation for the combination of the Hotel, AEM and Johnson programs, none such reasoning exists for the combination of ILR and CHE. Within the report itself, the Committee on Organizational Structures in the Social Sciences notes: “some of the committee felt that it was not evident what problems exist with the existing structure that this is meant to cure. Nonetheless, most could see something exciting and new emerging here.” The academic pursuits of students should not be toyed with for the sake of novelty, interest and development without guidance or goal. Visions for change must come with clear goals in what those transformations aim to solve and achieve. If not, the college will be left in the lurch.

Additionally, there are the vast implications of those risks mentioned within the report itself: the “potential harm to the unique external identities of both units.” CHE and ILR are unique insofar as they are founded on specific versions of academic pursuit and purpose. They are two of the most specialized programs at our University, and, in the world. Now, more than ever, their decided focus is essential to understanding our changing world. ILR classes ought be dealing with those impending questions of labor in today’s world including those challenges of globalization, precarity, and organizing. Programs within the College of Human Ecology each have their own 21st century challenges, including dealing with global poverty, climate change, sustainability, and the numerous issues that exist both domestically and internationally in regard to healthcare policy and childhood development.

A call for interdisciplinarity inherently asks not only for a loss of this specialization, but also for a loss of those focal points and views essential in the current pursuit of these ends. Industrial and Labor Relations already has a dearth of electives that explore, in depth, issues of labor and the working class. No possible solution could exist for this problem in a world in which colleges are combined, spreading thin those resources which are already noticeably lacking. Human Ecology extends its academic breadth to issues far beyond the scope of an umbrella of social science, including those unique tracks of fiber science and apparel design, global health, human development, health administration and nutrition. These programs will find themselves excluded and under-resourced through such a merger. Thus, a merger of CHE and ILR will naturally make it impossible for students to gain the education that they desire. Further, the consolidation is a deliberate attempt to treat social sciences as a nebulous discipline. The idea of inequality – and the specific groups and populations that it impacts –  cannot be treated as decentered from issues of labor, climate change, and health care. To combine these schools is to downgrade the immense ties that these issues have to one another.

Furthermore, because the members were encouraged “to ignore the challenges or feasibility of implementation,” the opinions of the student body have yet to be considered within the process. This decision comes in the wake of a concerning trend towards a lack of democratic governance and increased opacity in decision making processes. The only proposed student-feedback venue will be an email address to privately voice concerns; however, we believe publicizing the visceral, inter-disciplinary frustration with this intentionally secretive proposal is essential. The notion of “Any Person, Any Study” manifests in the ability of Cornell students to pursue those unique academic tracks of the College of Human Ecology and Industrial and Labor Relations.

The merging of these two programs would be an absolute travesty: we, the undersigned members of both colleges, strongly urge the University to not make such a horrendous error in judgement.


Alexandra Klein, ILR ’18

Carunya (Caro) Achar, ILR ’18

Kataryna Restrepo, ILR ’21

Daniel Bromberg, ILR ’20

Katy Habr, ILR ’18

Daniel Kirchner, ILR ’21

Madeleine Goldberg, Human Ecology ’18

Rachel Soderstrom, Human Ecology ’18

Emma Ungar, Human Ecology ’20

Emma Moore, Human Ecology ’20

Gabe Diamond, ILR ’18

Delaney Ho, ILR ’21

Hannah Light-Olson, Human Ecology ’18

Stacey Chen, Human Ecology ’18

Jin Ahn, ILR ’18

Gabriela Dickson La Rotta, Human Ecology ’20

David Scharf, ILR ’19

Jessa Chargois, Human Ecology ’18

Syjah Harris, ILR ’20

Stephanie Chow, ILR ’17

Julissa Andrade, ILR ’18

Grace Bogdanove, ILR ’18

Kyle Friend, ILR ’18

Xavier Eddy, ILR ’19

Cameron Dunbar, ILR ’21

Matthew Indimine, Human Ecology ’18

Jaëlle Sanon, ILR’19

Zachary Kaplan, ILR ’18

Aja Ceesay, ILR’19

Gleni Kodra, ILR ’19

Caroline Baldwin, Human Ecology ’18

Hannah Cho, ILR ’19

Julia Velazco, ILR ’20

Laura Martinez, ILR ’19

Gabriel Kaufman, ILR ’18

Amanda Madenberg, Human Ecology ’20

Julia Albrecht, ILR ’18

Caitlin Gleason, ILR ’18

Kathryn O’Brien, Human Ecology ’18

Nathanael Cheng, ILR ’20

Michael Iadevaia, ILR ’16, JD ’19

Olivia St Amand, ILR ’20

TingAnn Hsiao, Human Ecology ’18

Vanessa Chicas, Human Ecology ’18

Richard Green, ILR ’21

Marinna Chung, ILR ’21

Luke Daniels, ILR ’18

Onyinyechukwu Nnodum, ILR ’21

Mohammed Ullah, Human Ecology ’21

Juliette Raymond, ILR ’21

Arlo J. DiPasquale, ILR ’17

Hannah Redding, ILR ’18

Andi Kao, ILR

Solomon Shewit, ILR ’19

Amy Ewert, ILR ’18

Carolina Braga, ILR ’18

Victoria Straub, ILR ’18

David Blatter, ILR

Allison Herstic, ILR ’21

Sabrina Rivers, ILR ’18

Margaret Smith, ILR ’21

Liel Sterling, ILR ’21

Chiamaka Ijebuonwu, Human Ecology ’20

Aimé Freedenberg, ILR ’21

Patrick May, ILR ’18

Natalie Lilien, ILR ’21

Amanda Tripodi, ILR ’21

Barron Williams ILR ’19

Eliza Sherman, ILR ’21

Lillien Ellis, ILR ’14, ’17, ’21

Micaela Moravek, Human Ecology ’21

Jaylexia Clark, ILR ’19

Jenny Swift, ILR ’18

Yvonne Schichtel, Human Ecology ’21

Liliana Minerva, Human Ecology ’21

Georgia Manning, Human Ecology ’21

Junhan Zeng, Human Ecology ’21

Victor Rieman, ILR ’21

Jinyoung Park, ILR ’19

Nikolaus Krachler, ILR

Shara Safer, Human Ecology ’19

Elizabeth Allen, Human Ecology ’18

Daniela Rochez, Human Ecology ’21

Marissa Rifkin, Human Ecology ’18

Alison Graziano, Human Ecology ’20

Sydney Hamroff, Human Ecology ’19

Jill Warren, Human Ecology ’19

Kevin Linsey, ILR ’18

Josh Mooney, ILR ’20

Arleigh Parr, Human Ecology, ’21

Jenna Korotkin, Human Ecology ’19

Renee Odom, Human Ecology ’20

Christine Ye, Hunan Ecology ’20

Christina Troisi, ILR ’18

Vanessa Roga, ILR ’20

Mika Forman-Yossifov, ILR ’21

Lauren Price, ILR ’20

Omar Nesheiwat, ILR ’20

MacKenzie Vick, Human Ecology ’21

Katherine Curtis, Human Ecology ’19

Erika Kane, Human Ecology ’20

Sabrina Sugano, ILR ’19

Terrill Malone, ILR ’21

Clady Corona, ILR ’19

Robert Goldberg, Human Ecology, ’18

Hannah Sosenko, ILR ’19

Mariel Emrich, Human Ecology, ’18

Annice Lee, Human Ecology, ’21

Jane Hinkle, Human Ecology, ’18

Ugochukwu Ukponu, Human Ecology, ’21

Lydia Kim, ILR ’18

Alexandra Kosakoff, ILR ’20

Grant Fabrizio, Human Ecology ’19

Sara Salmonson, ILR, ’19

Isabella Lombardo, Human Ecology ’21

Christine Cho, ILR ’18

Christopher Moon, Human Ecology ’21

Sarah Edwards, Human Ecology ’19

Anna Kallmeyer, Human Ecology ’20

Mikayla Wilson, ILR ’18

Sloane Applebaum, Human Ecology ’18

Asia Moore, ILR ’20

Kevin Mendoza, ILR ’19

Matthew Fooksman, ILR ’20

Arnella Mucha, ILR ’20

Isabela Motta, ILR ’18

Marion Panepento, ILR ’21

Rrita Osmani, ILR ’20

Chelsea Hiciano, Human Ecology ’20

Olivia Heim, Human Ecology ’21

Alisha Nanji, Human Ecology ’19

Alex Champagne, Human Ecology ’21

Natasha Nanji, Human Ecology ’19

Hannah Harvey, Human Ecology ’21

Isabelle Doubleday, Human Ecology ’21

Allison Fox, Human Ecology ’20

Matthew Fischer-Daly, ILR

Jay Wook Jun, Human Ecology ’18

Hyesook Chung, ILR

Kelly Bouzi, ILR ’18

Molly Novak, ILR ’18

Phoebe Rorke, ILR ’18

Lauren Woods, ILR ’19

Charlotte Borgers, Human Ecology ’21

Emily Abelow, ILR ’21

Ty Joseph, ILR ’18

Olivia Tometich, Human Ecology ’21

Claudia Chan, Human Ecology ’20

Soo Bin Ahn, ILR ’18

Lee Usiskin, ILR ’18

Kineret Brokman, ILR ’18

Alexis Pollitto, ILR ’18

Daniel Rosenfeld, Human Ecology ’18

Carolyn Todd, Human Ecology ’19

Claudia Greenspan, ILR ’19

Olivia Baryluk, Human Ecology ’20

Brenna Louie, Human Ecology ’18

Hannah Simmerman, ILR ’19

Irvin McCullough, ILR ’18

Ashni Verma, ILR ’21

Bella Harnick, Human Ecology ’21

Eliana Kaplan, Human Ecology ’21

Sammy Stern, Human Ecology ’21