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A proposal passed by the Ithaca Common Council could cancel three months of rent.

February 20, 2020

Collegetown Council Hits on Greek Life, Off-Campus Living

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The Collegetown Neighborhood Council discussed a laundry list of topics, including the 2020 United States Census, fire safety, Cornell Greek life and Collegetown banners at a meeting on Tuesday.

The Collegetown Neighborhood Council serves as a forum for Cornell students, business owners, law enforcement, University officials and members of the Ithaca community to discuss issues and developments in Collegetown. 

During the meeting, a representative from the United States Census Bureau explained how Tompkins County aims to improve its high non-response rate — which was 23 percent in 2010 — by hiring approximately 700 census takers. 

The representative urged Cornell students to apply to be paid census takers, saying that this year’s census would help advocate for the 46.9 percent of children under 18 in Tompkins County that live under the poverty line. 

After discussing the 2020 census, Tom Knipe, director of economic development in the City of Ithaca, updated the council that approximately 30 individual water services on sewer main remain to be completed. 

Denise Thompson, Cornell’s off-campus living manager, reported a partnership with the American Red Cross’s “Sound the Alarm” campaign that will provide students with free smoke alarms and installation. On March 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., students will be able to sign up to have up to three smoke alarms installed within their residence free-of-cost. 

Recent Greek life reforms were also discussed at the meeting. Kara Miller McCarty, the Robert G. Engel Director of Sorority & Fraternity Life, described the reforms as “more in line with national standards,” requiring that all events be registered, regardless of where they are held. Previously, only events at University-recognized sorority and fraternity houses were required to be registered. 

“We’re seeing a lot of dry events registered, and I think it’s debatable how dry a dry event is,” McCarty said of her doubts about the implementation.

Lucas Smith ’22, representative of the Student Assembly’s City and Local Affairs Committee, announced plans to host a community dinner in order to increase dialogue between students and the Ithaca community. The dinner may replace the Homeplate program, which has arranged for Ithaca residents to host Cornell students for informal dinners in the past.

Smith also acknowledged that ongoing discussions about the replacing the TCAT system on campus with a University bus system might affect the Ithaca community, and introduced plans to survey the Ithaca community for feedback on what Cornell students can do to improve community engagement.

“If we put a survey out and we get 10, 12 comments … we’d be thrilled just because it’s that direct interaction with the city and local affair committee that we can affect change,” said Smith. “We’re doing our best to try to get better as students to increase our advocacy.”