February 11, 2020

GUEST ROOM | A Letter to President Pollack from Your Friends at the Politburo

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Dear Comrade-President Pollack,

On behalf of the Politburo, I wish to commend you for your bold measures to curb student civil liberties. These steps have not gone unnoticed by those of us who have always also found the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to be a nuisance. We could only have dreamed of such repression in the sixties.

Those sad Greek alumni. Giving hundreds of millions of dollars, all the while knowing your “secret” plan to destroy everything they love about their alma mater. You are to be commended for recruiting such a compliant group of alumni to serve on your councils and play your rigged game. It’s wonderful that Trustee elections are as competitive as our Politburo ones. It’s much easier to gain complete control over every minute of your subjects’ lives when you have fully stifled dissent. And if any chapter does dare to speak out, you can spin quite literally anything to be a violation of your Byzantine rules. Poof! Soon, you will have succeeded in your quest to make Cornell as dreadfully dull as Yale.

Alas, there are some fellow comrades who believe your efforts have not gone far enough. Your mere half-measures will not suffice. Therefore, please immediately adopt the following additional “suggestions” to further enforcement.

  1. Disband the Law School: No “lawyer in the best sense” could stay quiet as you played fast and loose with the rules and abridged fundamental liberties. Besides, you don’t want to be hearing terms like “due process,” “freedom of association” or “jurisdiction” flying around while you’re busy central planning.
  2. Apply all campus regulations to alumni as well as students: Why should your power end at graduation any more than it ends at the edge of campus? Clearly if a member of a fraternity and a sorority marry, their wedding is an unregistered social event. (I hope they hired security!) Arresting all members of the wedding party would provide strong leverage to recruit their future children early to be Cayuga’s Watchers for the classes in the 2040’s (if you haven’t done away with legacy preference by then too).
  3. Badges: Make members of sororities and fraternities wear gold badges at all times so that they are readily identifiable to the CUPD. Unregistered mixers could be happening anytime, anywhere. Enforcement of the Campus Code requires ready ID of all offending parties. Remember — just tell the students that if they follow the campus code at all times there’s nothing to fear!
  4. Search Parents’ Houses: Conduct random searches of parents’ houses during all periods classes are out of session. Certainly if searches of private property in Collegetown are permitted, so too must they be where parents have entered into a contractual relationship with the University! We have heard reports of illicit summer beer pong games and groups of four to six fraternity and sorority members meeting in New York City for dinners. This cannot be tolerated.
  5. Loyalty Oath: Fealty to the supreme leader is key.
  6. Live-in Advisors: Make mandatory the quartering of one university-trained “advisor” in each on-campus dormitory room and two in any off campus housing. We must protect the students from themselves just as King George III did.
  7. Moles: Select new, youthful-looking university staff to pose as students. Be sure to embed into each class from orientation for maximum effect. They can gain the students’ trust while simultaneously reporting all infractions. (This worked great in our East German factories!)

While you still have some room for improvement, we remain pleased with the results to date. We can’t say enough about your ability to recruit students to watch each other under the guise of public safety. We know the Cayuga’s Watchers are student-run, but the similarity to the now-extirpated Cayuga’s Waiters serves as a simple, but elegant, reminder of your ability to crush even the most beloved Cornell institutions at will. Alas, even they speak out against you now … It’s so hard to find good help.

We further commend you for creating a culture of fear and repression where the very people you subjugate dare not speak out lest you unleash a midnight raid on their house in search of Keystone Light contraband. It’s always much easier to slaughter the sheep one by one. What titillation you must feel as fraternity presidents step forth to say “thank you” for their punishments. There is no doubt Robespierre and the Salem magistrates shared such ecstasy as they too presided over their fair and speedy trials. It’s just so much easier to cajole confessions when the price of protesting one’s innocence is more pain.

We wish you continued success in all your efforts. Remember — we’re watching you.


David B. Cronheim, Esq. is a practicing attorney. He is a 2007 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences and a 2010 graduate of Cornell Law School. As an undergraduate, he was a fraternity president. While a law student, he frequently defended students accused of violating the campus code. Comments may be sent to [email protected]. Guest Room runs periodically this semester.