The Student Assembly passed a resolution on Thursday that would create a new seat for Dyson students, amid questions over if they deserved representation on the S.A.
The resolution, which passed almost unanimously, at 25-0-1, was first proposed by School of Industrial and Labor Relations representative Polina Solovyeva ’21 at the Oct. 17 S.A. meeting. The resolution was put on hold at the time as many S.A. members expressed concerns over reapportioning school representation.
The focus of the debate this time was around Dyson students’ identity — are they members of CALS? While the Applied Economics and Management major and the Dyson school that was later built around it have always been part of CALS, and Dyson undergrads who are New York State residents also qualify for in-state tuition thanks to CALS’ land-grant college status, some Dyson students who showed up at the S.A. meeting said they are not actually connected to the college.
Paul Rojas ’20, a Dyson Leadership fellow, stressed that Dyson is a distinctly different school from CALS and the S.C. Johnson College of Business, both of which “share” the Dyson school.
“There’s an important distinction that you can’t hold the students accountable for some of the higher bureaucratic processes that we can’t speak to,” Rojas said. “We can’t control how CALS or SC Johnson wants to view making college affordable. Just know that there are very big differences between an agriculture scientist in CALS and an agriculture [sic] economist in Dyson.”
Julia Isakov ’21, another Dyson student present at the meeting, said she rarely interacts with CALS students on a daily basis and that there was a movement among Dyson students to stop referring to them as AEM majors because they are students in a distinct school.
“We are members of the Dyson School, and we are part of that school system. We’re all in Dyson studying AEM,” she said.
On the other hand, some S.A. members, such as Moriah Adeghe ’21, vice president of finance and minority liaison at-large, viewed a seat for Dyson as creating a seat for a single major and expressed disagreement with the idea that Dyson is a separate school from CALS.
“I know you guys say sometimes that you’re not part of CALS, but the S.C. Johnson College of Business website itself says that you are, so I’m really struggling to understand why you’re saying that isn’t the case,” Adeghe said.
In the S.A., school representation is based on student population. ILR, the School of Hotel Administration, the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and the College of Human Ecology only have one representative due to their smaller student bodies. CALS and the College of Engineering have two representatives, while the College of Arts and Sciences has three, as Cornell’s largest school.
A straw poll vote conducted early in the meeting, which functions as a preliminary vote in which members would indicate if they supported the resolution or not, saw a vast majority of members raised their placards in support of the resolution, but a few S.A. members did not.
Before the official voting began, an amendment to the resolution was introduced by Indigo Pavlov ’22, which clarified that once a Dyson is created on the S.A., then CALS representatives would no longer represent Dyson students. With a Dyson representative, the constituency CALS representatives serve on the S.A. would now shrink from 3,100 students to approximately 2,400 students.
Since a new seat for Dyson would involve a change to the S.A.’s charter — the primary governing document for the S.A., the resolution still requires approval from Cornell President Martha E. Pollack. Once Pollack approves, the changes would go into effect next semester. The elections for Dyson representatives would then be held during the spring, according to Solovyeva.
Nicole Zhu ’21 contributed reporting to this article.