April 21, 2019

EDITORIAL: When Tragedy Strikes, Pollack’s Statements Should Say More

Print More

In her latest email, President Martha Pollack sent a brief statement expressing she is “shocked and horrified” about the bombings in Sri Lanka. It is important that Pollack is sending out these emails and addressing the Cornell community as tragedy strikes. It shows her cognizance of different student experiences and expresses her sincere sentiments.

But a mere 68 words is probably not enough. Pollack’s 68-word Sri Lanka statement has less than one word for every three people that died in those bombings. Her email addressing the swastika found on the Arts Quad had 85 words. Her email addressing the Mosque shooting had 79. And her email about the Cornell Presidential Task Force had 306. While quality does matter more than quantity, when you see the discrepancy between Cornell-related emails and emails addressing the numerous tragedies the world has seen this year, it seems that these statements are simply unproductive.

There are no community resources linked at the bottom of the email. There is no mention of community efforts to help any students, faculty or staff that could be struggling with the consequences of these events. There is really no purpose to these statements — besides Pollack informing students that she’s sorry they happened. While it’s a nice thought, Pollack has the power to send out an email that can have an impact in the Cornell community.

Just because there is an available listserv to send a campus-wide email, does not mean it needs to be used. And just because Pollack can make a statement does not mean it was what the community needs. If the Presidential Task Force deserved 306 words, maybe more information or resources can be provided in emails responding to tragedy to give them more purpose.

With this much power and reach, the primary goal should be to communicate that Cornell is supportive of community members who are facing these tragedies, directly or peripherally. These statements should offer community support, help direct students to existing resources and show evidence that Cornell is taking steps to help the community heal together. A nation lost more than 200 people today while they were celebrating a holiday in their houses of worship. So 68 words may have gotten to the point, but it missed the greater point.

The above editorial reflects the opinions of The Cornell Daily Sun. Editorials are penned collaboratively between the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor and Opinion Editor, in consultation with additional Sun editors and staffers. The Sun’s editorials are independent of its news coverage and op-eds.