The Sun’s thoroughly researched report on diversity in the School of Hotel Administration underscores the need to look beyond topline statistics when cultivating a diverse and supportive educational environment. While the hotel school has made strides in increasing the number of enrolled students who are underrepresented minorities, The Sun’s interviews with both students and professors indicate Cornell has not yet created a learning space in which all faculty and students feel represented and attended to equally.
The University must continue to prioritize follow-through as well as the more visible outreach. The goal is not just to hire a more diverse pool of professors; it is to retain those professors for longer than a few years, whether with tenure and other means. The goal is not just to increase minority enrollment; it is to provide those students with the resources to be successful. Cornell must make more than just surface-level commitments to diversity if it truly wants to live up to its ethos of “Any person…any study.” We hope the hotel school administration is taking steps to address the concerns raised by the students and professors in the article, and that it is always looking for ways to receive the unvarnished and honest opinions of its community.
Furthermore, we hope the University will reconsider its hostile stance toward transparency on these issues. The Cornell Factbook, which houses publicly available information on Cornell’s demographics, does not make distinction between the undergraduate programs within the so-called “College of Business” the University assures us is a real thing. Cornell should publicly release the separate demographic data for the Dyson School, the graduate college and the hotel school, instead of lumping all three into one amorphous clump of statistics.
Also troubling is the clear trepidation the University feels at the thought of professors speaking openly to reporters. We strenuously object to the email sent by Justina Reynolds, assistant to the associate dean of academic affairs, which directed faculty to stonewall any reporters (specifically from The Sun) who asked about faculty searches. We hope that moving forward, Cornell will recognize that sunlight is the best medicine for many of its ills, and that restricting the speech of faculty, staff and administrators can only have deleterious effects. Rest assured, The Sun will continue to report on the most pressing issues of the day, even when faced with pushback of any nature.