Courtesy of Cornell University

Several Cornell student representatives and undergraduate veterans are trying to make Veterans Day a University holiday.

November 29, 2021

Veteran Students Push For Recognition of Veterans Day as University Holiday

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On Nov. 11,Veteran’s Day is celebrated across the country every year with many U.S. government agencies and businesses closing and many cities hosting parades across the country. However, Cornell students, staff and faculty will still be expected to come to their classes and jobs. For many, this either means missing out on on-campus celebrations or making arrangements for their other responsibilities. 

While some Cornell student representatives and undergraduate veterans are trying to make next year’s Veterans Day a University holiday, not all members of Cornell’s veterans community see it as necessary. 

“I would like to actually participate in events on Veterans Day as opposed to after,” said Roland Molina ’22, president of the Cornell Undergraduate Veterans Association and co-sponsor of a resolution first introduced in the Graduate and Professional student assembly to officially make Veterans Day a University holiday.

This year, Cornell events for Veterans day included a walking tour of Cornell’s various Veteran Memorials across the campus and a speech by Brigadier General Joseph Bieler, who spoke on the military’s role in supporting states during crises, including the 9/11 attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, without a day off, many undergraduate veterans, including Molina, were not able to attend the events. 

Several undergraduate veterans said that celebrating Veterans Day was a way to help all students with stress and burnout. Molina suggested removing a day off from fall break and dedicating it to Veterans Day, making both fall break and Veterans day three day weekends.

“Cornell students push themselves hard and tend to burn themselves out by working nonstop,” said Damien Osborne ’23, an undergraduate veteran who supports the 3 day weekend proposal.

“This resolution is important because it reminds Cornellians, many of whom may have no personal ties to current service members or the veteran community, that these individuals exist and sometimes they need society’s help,” said Ian Akisoglu ’22, an undergraduate veteran who sits on the University Assembly.

Debra Howell, the employee representative for the Veteran Colleague Network Group, believes a formal recognition of this holiday by the University is not needed.

“The VCNG feels that there is clear acknowledgement that the University does a lot for the veterans’ community,” Howell said, “We do not see the formal recognition as a necessary step.” 

The resolution, which has already passed the Graduate Students and Professionals Assembly, the Student Assembly and most recently the University Assembly, states that all “University Affiliates” should have off on Veterans Day, and classes should be cancelled. 

The resolution has already been acknowledged by President Pollack, who responded by describing the many ways that Cornell celebrated Veterans Day and supported its veterans throughout the year.

“Although Cornell University held classes on Veterans Day, and Nov. 11 remains a regular workday for staff, we were glad to be able to recognize and honor our faculty, staff and student veterans in several ways this year,” Pollack wrote.

In order for the resolution to bypass Pollack and be considered by the trustees directly, it needs to pass both the Employee Assembly and the Faculty Senate, neither of which have passed it yet.