October 20, 2020

GUEST ROOM | The Big Red Organization

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Now that the world’s gone nuts, quarantine has led us all to confront problems we’ve been putting off for far too long. Loveless marriages, dislike of children and a lot of tequila are driving Americans over the edge. Since we’ve all had to deal with our own issues, I figured Cornell should do the same.

The university’s undergraduate college structure doesn’t make a ton of sense. Why are there three business schools? Why is Information science offered across three colleges? Less importantly, why does the School of Industrial and Labor Relations only have one major?

Last semester in AMST 2001, The First American University, Corey Earle, American studies, challenged students to redesign the structure for extra credit. I gladly partook because telling others how Cornell should fix its own problems is every Cornellian’s favorite pastime.

For starters, the College of Engineering should be renamed the College of Data, Information, Engineering and Science because the acronym DIES would more aptly reflect the innate feeling most engineering students have toward their workload … and the rest of us. Given such a morbid name, administrative opposition is expected. Instead, the College of Information, Data, Engineering and Applied Sciences would consolidate Engineering departments across colleges and combine with Computing and Information Science to form a single school. IDEAS should base new research on advancements more reflective of futurity, where AI sprinklers scare stray cats off your lawn and Japanese sex robots are found in every fraternity. It would better position Cornell to become a world-class hub for PETA protests, simulating foreplay with cyborgs and even more stress.

Regarding the Samuel Curtis Johnson College of Business, The Hotel School should be established as a separate entity, just like everyone was begging for, and the Dyson program should be abolished. Before the Hotel students, and ILR students, and Policy Analysis and Management students, and Economics students and Operations Research and Information Engineering students get too excited over the prospect of eliminating the program they wish they were in, Applied Economics and Management students should be Johnson undergraduates within the Johnson School of Business. Similar to how Wharton has Wharton undergraduates and Wharton MBA students, Cornell should adopt this saner model that the best business school in the country embraces. That’s not too hard of a sell, right?

The most interesting part of this reorganization is navigating the jungle of departments and majors the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Human Ecology all seem to have in common. Fixing the overlaps is a task I could imagine Cornell paying a New York City-based second-tier consulting firm well over $500,000 to evaluate, akin to the “what to do with Human Ecology” reports published throughout the past year.

As always, the main problem seems to be the CHE. It’s the centerpiece of every reorganization proposal Cornell has toyed with, either alongside ILR or a new public policy school. I never understood why combining ILR with Human Ecology was even considered. So fashion designers can learn about minimum wage laws? I don’t think so; they’ll learn that the hard way.

My theory behind why it’s the center of attention is money. Human Ecology had the lowest average post-graduation salary every year since 2015, except 2017, according to Cornell Career Services’ annual Postgraduate Reports. I understand many Human Ecology students are going to be doctors, which is tremendously respectable. They don’t care how much their gap year jobs underpay because they will be making bank in the future. However, in the name of the pseudo-American college ranking system, Cornell cares.

I propose that CALS fuses with Human Ecology to become the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology. All the biology-related fields in Arts should be put within A-HEC to create a mega college of overbearing pre-meds, sequestered to the Ag Quad and away from the rest of us, so no one has to hear the phrase “orgo” ever again. As a result, Arts would become the College of Arts and Physical Sciences (the science of non-living things) and A-HEC will include all majors related to the science of living things.

The new public policy school should be named the College of Global Public Policy and Leadership. GPPL will house departments like the Cornell Institute of Public Affairs, PAM, Government and Military Science. Hopefully, this new entity can mint a better generation of Cornell leaders as no Cornellian has ever been president, clearly we’re doing nothing right. The University of Pennsylvania can boast that one of their graduates has made it to the White House, even if they choose to do so silently. The closest we have is Kiefer Sutherland’s character on the tv series Designated Survivor, who was an architecture student of all majors. And yes, I have watched all three seasons of the show.

Despite Cornell’s disorganization, every student should feel fortunate they are receiving an elite education, even if it’s over zoom. As a Class of 2020 graduate, I can unequivocally say that attending Cornell made me grow mentally, emotionally and psychologically, despite sometimes feeling like it did the opposite.

So Cornellians, especially the Class of 2024, try to savor every moment. The pandemic will eventually end and campus will be as lively as it was when I left in March. The wonderful people, the intellectualism and liberalism are incomparable. I promise. I hope you all will look back fondly at your Cornell experience like me and now smile every time you think of the disorganization because no other college has three business schools, an Information Science major across three colleges, and a school dedicated to industrial and labor relations.

Justin San Antonio ’20 is a graduate of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Comments can be sent to [email protected]. Guest Room runs periodically throughout the semester.