August 2, 2020

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: RE: ‘Administrators Outline Thursday’s ‘Excruciating Decision’ at Latest Town Hall’

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To the Editor:

The recent Sun articles relating to Cornell’s backtracking on COVID-19 opening school procedures are disturbing.

As a parent of college graduates, my question is why did Cornell leadership, specifically Provost Michael Kotlikoff and Vice President Ryan Lombardi, not have a robust school opening plan in the first place? I believe the answer is a simple one.

The backtracking on quarantine procedures indicates an apparent unrealistic set of goals and objectives and a lack of applying critical thinking skills to evaluate the unintended consequences of the original plan.

Prof. Robert Howarth’s, ecology and evolutionary biology, statement says it best, “As Chairman of Cornell’s University Assembly, this is the first I heard about this major backtracking. Quite disturbing, as if this is indeed the new plan.”

It is disturbing to every parent and student attending Cornell but especially stressful to the entering freshman class’ students and parents. The backtracked response is saying to every freshman student from a state on Cuomo’s COVID-19 travel advisory that Cornell wants their tuition without having to provide an on-campus experience. Virtual classrooms do not cut it for freshmen. If I were a parent, I would say this is not what I financially signed up for.

The Cornell Board of Trustees have an obligation to the students and parents to review the Cornell Leadership Team’s decision-making process. This action would be a visible demonstration that the administrators responsible for this backtracking are held accountable and not just given a slap on the hand.

Thomas Koehler ’62