The 161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do has been gaining significant attention over the past couple of days. As I was reading the list, I noticed some activities would be considered inappropriate and even illegal. I am not in favor of eradicating the list; there just need to be some major changes to ensure everyone complies with the law. It all started when I posted a meme criticizing the 161 Things on Cornell: Any Person Any Meme, the Facebook page. Some students have caught on and are now in favor of wanting those changes.
Unpopular opinion: I adore the food at Cornell Dining and still retain a meal plan with them as a senior. As a result, I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the various dining halls across campus and I’m noticing the increasing plethora of people on their phones while eating, usually alone. It seems to be a wider phenomenon. Even my dad does it too now at home — and recently I called him out for it. “You’re using a phone after I took a five hour-long bus trip to see you?
This week’s midterm elections will be among the most consequential in recent memory. At stake is nothing less than the direction of our democracy and our nation. The past two years have not been easy for many Americans — the Trump administration has embarked on a substantial rollback of rights and protections for women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and more. Congress tried repeatedly (though unsuccessfully) to repeal the lifesaving Affordable Care Act, and succeeded in passing in passing a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of working people. And a growing but still fragile economy finds itself at the mercy of a capricious administration’s trade policy.
On Sunday, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration is planning on implementing a narrow definition of gender under Title IX — a move that would effectively erase legal protection and deny government recognition for transgender people. The proposed change, which undoes Obama-era guidances that affect the education, labor, justice, and health and human services departments, is unwarranted, callously cruel, destructive, and possibly illegal. As one of the most prominent institutions of higher education in America, Cornell must loudly object to these proposed changes. If they are implemented, Cornell must reiterate its support for and recognition of transgender members of our community, and New York State should take action to counteract the federal government’s mistake. We were heartened to see that Cornell, two days before the Times’ report, published a guide on “gender transition and affirmation in the workplace” for its employees and HR staff, and reiterated its commitment to “diversity and inclusion … beyond merely adhering to legal and institutional nondiscrimination policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of … gender identity and expression.” Providing resources on items as fundamental as name and pronoun changes is a primary responsibility of any forward-looking organization, and we applaud Cornell for that.
On Monday, The Sun published an editorial titled “Stand with Harvard on Affirmative Action.” It concerned the ongoing lawsuit Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which went to trial in Boston this week. The editorial reaffirmed The Sun’s long-standing support for affirmative action and positive race consideration in the college admissions process. It also expressed our worry that the outcome of this case will be the end of affirmative action and positive race consideration in all college admissions processes nationwide. However, the editorial did not pay sufficient attention to the specific claims against Harvard included in the suit. The suit claims that Harvard systematically rated Asian-American applicants lower on “personal scores” — the least-defined of the five categories on which all applicants are scored.
Cornell has decided to reverse course and will now record Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Thursday talk in Bailey Hall, and we at The Sun could not be more pleased. This way, as the first snow of the winter descends upon Ithaca, Justice Sotomayor’s “fireside chat” will warm not just a few hundred undergraduates in Bailey Hall, but also the thousands of Cornellians who couldn’t secure a seat. It never quite made sense why the event would be neither livestreamed nor recorded. After all, the Supremes (including Sotomayor) give recorded speeches at universities all the time, and there is no apparent reason why this event should be different. Talk about a misguided attempt to make Cornell “unique.”
Truth be told, we are still puzzled by how we got into this whole situation.
Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, a case that could decide the future of affirmative action in America, goes to trial today in Boston. The issue at hand is ostensibly Harvard’s alleged discrimination against Asian-Americans in their admissions process to the benefit of other minorities and white students, but the plaintiffs have made clear that their true intention in bringing suit is to eradicate all race-based consideration from college admissions nationwide. Though the case currently sits in front of U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs, its outcome will likely be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where newly installed Justice Brett Kavanaugh and a 5-4 conservative majority await. We strongly oppose this latest effort by conservative gadfly Edward Blum to force universities and colleges to ignore race when making decisions, and we stand with Harvard, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the ACLU, and institutions of higher education across the country, including Cornell. Blum, who has made a career challenging affirmative action rules, most recently sued the University of Texas on behalf of Abigail Fisher, a white student rejected from that school in 2008.
This November, voters across the nation will head to the polls to choose their representatives in Congress, in governors’ mansions and in state houses. Tragically, dear reader, you probably won’t be one of them; after all, fewer than 20 percent of eligible Americans 18-29 cast a ballot in 2014. That makes our cohort the least likely of any age group to vote — that is, according to the statistics. Here’s what we say to that: fuck the statistics. Voting is the most important way in which you can engage in the political process.