February 11, 2019

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Undergrads: In support of grad student union’s mental health petition

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To the editor:

As undergraduate students, we would like to provide University leadership with an undergraduate perspective on Cornell Graduate Students United’s recently delivered mental health petition.

Foremost, we want to reiterate the crucial role that graduate student-workers play in the lives of undergrads. Graduate students are our mentors, our instructors and our friends. They oftentimes fill tasks left by overloaded professors — meeting with us one-on-one to guide us not only through our coursework, but through our larger academic and professional trajectories. Cornell does not work unless its graduate student-workers do, and the undergraduate experience would be a shell of itself without them.

As the University embarks on sustained efforts to reform Cornell Health, it is crucial that the interconnectedness of undergrad and grad experiences is centered. In the words of Natalie Hofmeister, CGSU’s grievances chair: “I’ve seen so many of my students struggle with their own mental health, and that, it’s taken a toll on my ability to show up for them when I don’t get adequate support for my own mental health.”

It is for these reasons and others that we stand in absolute solidarity with CGSU’s efforts to improve their working conditions on this campus. The insufficiency of mental health care services for this crucial constituency of Cornellians affects all of us, with grads facing unique health care difficulties that deserve special university consideration. And, when graduate student-workers suffer through mental health troubles, our entire academic institution suffers as well. We strongly echo their rallying cry that “Work Shouldn’t Hurt.”

We believe that the CGSU petition’s demands — from gym membership reimbursement to an improvement of the therapy referral process — are reasonable and necessary requests that deserve immediate University action. We encourage the University to accept and implement CGSU’s recommendations, and ask that CGSU be included at the decision-making table as further actions are taken to improve Cornell’s mental health services.


Joe Anderson ’20

Shivani Parikh ’19

Cristian Gonzalez ’20

Lavanya Aprameya ’19

Chris Arce ’19

Khaddy Kebbeh ’19

Colin Benedict ’21

Steve Tarcan ’20

Kumar Nandanampati ’20

Yana Kalmyka ’21

Daniel Bromberg ’20

Zelia Gonzales ’21

Adam Khatib ’20

Carlton Riley ’20

Max Greenberg ’22

Nancy Ren ’19

Varun Belur ’19

Matthew Anticoli ’20

Karen Loya ’19