April 22, 2018

PARK | The ILR-Human Ecology Merger: Let’s Not

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When the Committee on Organizational Structures in the Social Sciences recommended that the College of Human Ecology and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations combine, I laughed at the thought of HBHS students in Labor Law and ILR students in any science class besides Oceanography. Now that it may become a reality, it’s much less funny.

The Student Assembly and former Deans of the ILR School already expressed their opposition to the merger on the grounds of cultural differences and practical difficulties. From the perspective of a sophomore ILR student, I understand the impetus to lump together all the Bachelor of Science majors that have very little to do with science, but I’d like to politely say “no thank you.”

For anyone who has ever asked an ILR student what Industrial and Labor Relations is, and sat through the resultant verbal diarrhea regarding a human perspective to the workforce or regurgitation of quotes from the ILR site, they know that we’re pretty confused here in Ives Hall. We are a collection of high school presidents, debaters, Model U.N. delegates and social justice activists who fell in love with the promise of “one major, endless possibilities” and have absolutely no desire to take pre-med classes.

To an outsider, ILR may just seem like a random grouping of courses under six departments loosely relating to the workforce. But the reason our school and classes may seem like a random amalgamation of interdisciplinary classes is because we are a random amalgamation of students who are confused about our lives and can’t do math. In reality, our academic program is specifically tailored to advance the world of work by allowing us to explore our interests while quietly guiding us along paths to HR and law with a sprinkle of finance.

Whereas FSAD, HBHS and Nutritional Science majors often enter Cornell with the intention of becoming designers, doctors and nutritional scientists, ILR students often enter Cornell without a clue as to what we want to do with our lives.

The beauty of ILR is that we don’t have to know. We spend our first two years in core classes spanning a range of academic areas while imparting skills integral to a broad range of disciplines before tailoring our course of study to our specific interests. If we applied to university knowing we wanted to go into public policy, economics or finance, we probably would have ended up in PAM, Arts or Dyson.

I came to Cornell, not for the renowned professors, great prestige or unique opportunity to be cold for months on end, but rather, to study in a program that feels like it was made for me — where I could explore my interests in government, business, economics and, above all, people. Also because they said they didn’t care about my bio grades.

We are a unique, multidisciplinary school of leaders, community organizers and activists who enjoy getting involved in the Cornell community, complaining in Catherwood Library about Labor Law readings and being loud SJWs on campus.

While both the ILR school and the social sciences at Cornell can be improved, this is not an effective means to do so. To merge our school with the College of Human Ecology would be to dampen our dedication to work and employment and threaten the program we hold so dear. We will fight for our Ezra-given right to know everyone in our classes, brag about our three minors, and re-learn about collective action, integrative bargaining and Ann Hopkins each semester.

Let our oasis in Ives remain independent.

Sarah Park is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at [email protected]. S*Park Notes appears alternating Mondays this semester.