Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

Students will be able to come to Zeus in the fall, but will have to maintain social distancing measures.

May 4, 2020

Cornell Progressives Demands ‘Coronavirus Student Bailout’ from Administration

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The Cornell Progressives issued a list of demands to the Cornell administration on Thursday, arguing that it has failed to address basic student needs.

Called the “coronavirus student bailout” — posted to the group’s social media accounts — the seven key demands include a 30 percent tuition refund for the spring 2020 semester, an equitable grading system, paid leave for all university wage workers and town halls to involve students in University decision making.

Cornell Progressives, formerly known as Cornell for Bernie, is asking individuals to sign a petition supporting the demands.

In explaining its request for a partial tuition rebate, the group wrote that students have lost 47 percent of the semester.

“Their access to resources such as studios, laboratories, libraries have been significantly limited,” the message read. “Consequently, the experience a Cornell tuition warrants has been greatly diminished, thus students are entitled to partial compensation.”

Continuing their refund demands, the group also asked for “non-academic, campus-related expenses” to be fully refunded due to “forced dismissal from the campus [that] has prevented us from utilizing resources we bought earlier in the semester.”

George DeFendini ’22, who helped write the demands, said the group hopes to address the needs of struggling Cornell students to achieve a more inclusive institution.

“Students within our organization have come together and expressed discontent over a variety of issues we’ve faced under coronavirus,” DeFendini said. “Inconsiderate professors with strict deadlines and harsh grading, feeling left in the dark by administration’s decisions and financial anxieties amidst quarantine, to name a few.”

To respond to professors’ “apathy” towards student circumstances, the group asked Cornell to establish a “formal grievance procedure” for when professors fail to account for inequitable circumstances.

Although the organization has not yet heard from administration, students have positively reacted to the demands, which amassed more than 100 responses and 200 likes on social media platforms in just two days.

“This is very promising for our effort and we are certain we will reach the grand majority of the Cornell student body,” DeFendini said. “We are also reaching out to different student organizations for solidarity, and our demands have already been endorsed by the Cornell Democrats.”

DeFendini said Cornell Progressives is working to tackle a range of student issues, from job uncertainties to online class grievances, which the group says are otherwise going unaddressed by Cornell.

The organization believes that students deserve to have a say in the decisions that will “disproportionately impact their lives.” Until its demands are met, the group said that no student should be content.

“The students of this campus are the reason Cornell can claim the prestige it does and we are in need,” DeFendini said.

The group hopes the circumstances of the pandemic will inspire the current generation of students to become involved in the political process, both on campus and beyond.

“In times of crisis, it is paramount that we continue to push for healthcare as a human right, for housing justice, for a living wage and so much more,” DeFendini said. “This is the time for solidarity. We must fight for each other with love and compassion from here and onward.”