How do we create institutional change? At a University that has existed since 1865, we fall victim to systemic problems that persisted since long before the conception of Cornell. When evaluating the campus problems we seek solutions for — issues that affect one, many or all Cornellians — the sheer length of the list makes taking action seem overwhelming and unachievable. But what if we take one of the institutional problems we are facing and put forth a conversation and some action items to begin to tackle it? Many organizations on this campus, like Cornell Minds Matter, are champions of this approach and are creating positive institutional change.
Warning: The following content contains sensitive material about mental health, depression, anxiety and suicide. I’ll come right out and say it — I go to therapy here at Cornell, and I’ve gone to some form of therapy for years before. I’m not ashamed of that, and you shouldn’t be either when saying the same. Unless you live under a rock, you know that Cornell’s administration has been hard at work to enact new policies for mental health services on campus to improve the mental health of its students. But what has surprised me is the relative silence I actually hear between students about it.
A couple weeks ago, I had the birth control implant inserted. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a four-centimeter rod that is inserted under the skin. A local anesthetic is applied and a small incision is made — so small that you don’t even need stitches. Through the miracle of Cornell Health, I was able to get the thousand-dollar procedure done for just under $21. The nurse’s comments about the size of my biceps and her questions about my workout routine were only marginally more uncomfortable than the procedure itself.
Five thoughts on orgasms and whether they matter as much as we think they do:
1. At 14, I confess to a couple friends that I’ve never actually, you know, had an orgasm. They stare back at me with matching expressions of shock. “But you jerk off, right?”
I do. Maybe not in the most typical way, since I hate the slipperiness and contours of my vagina, which reminds me of a raw chicken, and prefer to keep my fingers strictly on the outside of my underwear.
It’s spooky season, and Halloweekend will soon be upon us. College girls everywhere have a lot to contend with in October, but at Cornell, where mid-Fall heralds the low 30s, All Hallows Eve becomes downright miserable. As a wise and benevolent junior, I thought I would share my knowledge with the legions. You’ve tired out the regular options. All of your friends are going as risky business (I understand the premise of the costume, but “Risky Business” is the name of the movie so technically they should text the group chat that they’re going as Joel Goodzen.
Ezra Cornell, the wealthy telegraph magnate who would co-found our uniquely egalitarian university in the aftermath of the Civil War, was convinced that 19th-century society was bound to undergo a dramatic transformation, a “revolution by which the downtrodden millions will be elevated to their equal and just rights, and each led to procure and enjoy … [the] happiness that all men and women are entitled to as the fruits of their labor.”
Cornell was determined to use his fortune to further this inevitable revolution, so Cornell University, the crown jewel of his philanthropic efforts, would be governed by bold populist principles. Unlike the other great universities of the East, which were defined by their colonial origins and aristocratic traditions, Cornell University would provide an elite education to students who were anything but elite: “downtrodden” young men and women of all faiths who would not otherwise set foot in an ivory tower. Though Cornell’s ethos of service to the common man and woman had great influence on the other educational reformers of his era, including Leland and Jane Stanford (whose namesake university was once referred to as the “Cornell of the West”), America’s prominent private institutions of higher learning have lost the trust of many of the ordinary Americans they exist — or should exist — to serve. With the prominence of exorbitant and ever-rising tuition rates, recent admissions fraud scandals and campus struggles with racism and bigotry, it’s hard to escape the sense that schools like Cornell are set up to cater to ruling elites at the expense of those who lack financial and social capital. This crisis of trust is especially dangerous in an era when faith in American institutions is rapidly eroding, truth is considered malleable and “alternative facts” reign.
A four-day mid-semester pause from classes would seem to offer ample time for students to recharge and focus on well-being and sleep. Nor is this an accident, as The Faculty Handbook Project makes clear: “Short breaks from academic requirements are intentionally included in the academic calendar to provide rest, respite and a break from schoolwork.” Cornell Health further emphasizes the need for rest, especially sleep, with an entire page dedicated to sleep-related health. It recommends students take 7-9 hours every night to get sleep — which, in its words, “is a necessity, not a luxury.”
But is that consistent with the messages our instructors are sending us? Take, for example, the all-too-common practice of professors assigning work during breaktime. When students get work over break, the obvious implication is that the assigned work should trump any need for a proper break.