Each Cornellian brings nearly two decades worth of life experiences to the Hill before we begin to change and be changed by Cornell. In those formative years — spent oceans, state-lines or maybe just a TCAT ride away from our collective home on campus — our communities decided for us whether we wear tennis shoes or sneakers, whether you see actual culinary value in a CTB bagel and whether we deem it acceptable to wear anything thicker than a windbreaker in September.
But the places we call home before we arrived on campus, equipped with red lanyards and the identities we brought from those homes, also shape how we react to meeting our often wealthy, artistically talented peers. They affect how absurd we find “a portrait of Jesus with condoms taped to his nipples” in our living space. They determine how desirable we feel in the dating-verse of Cornell. In our discourse in dorms and classrooms and dining halls, those past lives shape our current one, dictating how we react to seemingly innocent statements thrown over the dinner table that are charged with racist assumptions.
The people we were before we got to campus often decide for us which path of self-development we’re placed in when we get here. Our identities are manifold and they are complicated. This weekend at The Sun, we were reminded of the indispensable value of treading into the complex.
On Saturday, The Sun’s editorial board underwent a three-hour session of the Intergroup Dialogue Project, a peer-facilitated initiative catered toward Cornell groups, students, faculty and staff. Through workshops or semester-long course offerings, IDP teaches how to have open, intra-organizational conversations on the vocabulary and components of social identity to promote communication, listening and inclusivity in relationships we build in every space.
We heard the editors we often stay up with until night becomes morning talk about how the people they are outside of The Sun’s office impacts the roles they assume inside of it. It’s humbling and refreshing and weird and altogether vital to the longevity and quality of any organization to be reminded that collectively shedding blood, sweat and tears as we caffeinate in college is not a qualifier for really knowing the people you work with all of the time. We can and should be better about learning through listening — all of the time. IDP allowed The Sun to begin that process.
Listening to our fellow editors whom we work with daily to create the content that lands in your Facebook feed — and if you’re a particularly dedicated Sun reader, rolled up in print in the side pocket of your backpack — be open about our blind spots as an organization will improve how we function as a hub for campus discourse. But effective communication with our campus begins with effective communication with each other as writers and editors. We also know that The Sun is just one of hundreds of organizations that are led by and serve Cornellians. So as you enter another year of diligent work in your organization, we leave you with this request: Do your organization a service and complete an IDP workshop.
Three hours is not nearly enough to begin to grapple with the intricacy of identities like ability, sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, religion and socioeconomic status. A three-hour workshop is not the antidote to institutional barriers that breathe inequality, stereotyping and prejudice into every pocket of campus. Three hours is not even enough to let us know about all that we don’t know. But it is enough to let us know that we can be better — better listeners, better at admitting our shortcomings and better at communicating to work toward a better Cornell that grows as we do. Three hours of IDP is The Sun’s first step toward progress, toward a more inclusive vision of who we aspire to be. Three hours of IDP can give us a vision of who we want to be a semester, a year or four years after that progress.
Paris Ghazi is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She currently serves as the associate editor on The Sun’s 137th editorial board. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.