As of April 6, Cornellians have endured a full year of online classes, a substantially increased workload and a debilitating feeling of powerlessness throughout this ongoing pandemic. From April 27-30, an opportunity to take back some of that power and make your voice heard will present itself and I highly recommend every Cornellian does so.
Elections for the Board of Trustees, University Assembly and Student Assembly will be held from noon on April 28 to 5pm on April 30. This is your opportunity to reclaim some of the power taken by the pandemic. Cornell separates itself from thousands of other US universities by providing students with a system of shared governance where their voices are heard and millions of dollars are dedicated to make sure that change occurs as a result of those voices.
I ask you all to think about what frustrates you most at the moment. A lack of time and chance to take a break? The University Assembly combines the voices of students, employees and faculty to elevate these concerns to the Faculty Senate and decide how many days off we receive. Not enough money being put into mental and physical health services? The Board of Trustees directly decides how all of our money is spent and could shift finances in one vote. Wish minor finances such as printing and laundry were free? The Student Assembly has already made printing free for the coming semester and laundry services are in talks with housing.
I understand the feelings of detachment from our shared governance bodies that many of you believe are not representative of Cornellians. This is your opportunity to make them represent you. For the first time in years, all undergraduate seats in Cornell’s shared governance system will be filled after this election; not a single seat will be left open for a special election next semester. Twice as many seats and twice as many races are contested. You have the opportunity to make your voice heard throughout Cornell and show the administration, the city of Ithaca and the country what Cornellians stand for by voting. This time you have choices, take advantage of that.
The Elections Committee has made it easier to vote this time around. You will receive an email on Tuesday, April 28. Click it to vote.
You will see QR codes in the dining halls, dorms and surveillance testing sites. Scan them to vote.
You will see all over social media links to vote. Press them and vote.
Voting will take you five minutes and there is no need to register, request an absentee ballot or wait in line. Compared to other universities, Cornell has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in both Student Assembly and national polls. This is our opportunity to prove that we care about who represents our community and makes decisions for us.
I pleaded with you all to vote back in the November elections and we are looking forward to seeing what that data reveals. But for now, here is your opportunity to force your elected officials to represent you and I plead with you all, once again, to please vote.
Patrick Mehler is a sophomore in the college of Industrial and Labor Relations. Mehler is the President of Cornell Votes and is the Director of Elections for the Student Assembly. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Guest Rooms run periodically throughout the semester.