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BARAN | The Silver Lining to Fall 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has already upended our lives at Cornell and beyond. It will undoubtedly continue to do so into the fall. The question Cornell students are yearning to know is: How different will this fall be for us? We are almost uniformly dreading any decision that would make the fall 2020 semester much different than it has been in the past. But … would a little change really be that bad?

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BARAN | The Coronavirus Migration: Beyond Cayuga’s Waters

Cornell is incredibly cosmopolitan. Over 10 percent of the undergraduate population and 20 percent of the total student enrollment is international. With upwards of 100 countries represented in those statistics, Cornell can claim to be one of the most diverse universities in the countries. This diversity is normally nothing but positive. Having students from varying origins enriches classroom discussion, helps other students think more globally and elevates campus dialogue.

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BARAN | The Cure

In the 1950s and 60s, thousands of babies in Germany and other European countries were born with major birth defects because their mothers had taken a drug called thalidomide. Thalidomide was used to treat a variety of conditions, including nausea in pregnant women. The drug was not tested on pregnant women. In other words, officials rashly applied a treatment without considering other possible effects. Thalidomide certainly helped with nausea, but at a terrible price.

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BARAN | Alcoholic Framework

“Ever heard of beer, bro?”

American drinking culture, especially male drinking culture, is seriously flawed. No matter what anyone may say, there is an implicit pressure on young adults to consider drinking a fun pastime with no serious consequences. The explicit pressure is largely nonexistent, but the status quo, especially in Greek life, encourages drinking. Our worldview is to see drinking as innocuous. If someone chooses to abstain from alcohol, that choice is accepted — but usually with reluctance and without in-depth consideration of the reasons behind their abstinence.

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BARAN | Flip to a Flip-Phone, the Rerun

We all hate ourselves just a little bit every time we look at the Screen Time app on our smartphones. Every day we tend to underestimate the time we spent on our phones. Then we see the hours jump out at us from our screens, and think: “Where did all that time go?” Yet, save a select few, we continue to squander large parts of our day on our phones. Why don’t we stop this madness? Last year I wrote a column about my mom doing something drastic in response to this screen problem.

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BARAN | College Shouldn’t Be a Breeze

“Follow your passions.” “Do what you’re interested in.” This is advice we receive too often as college students. It’s also generally ignored. I’ve met many students, including myself, who take the path of least resistance when it came to classes and course loads. We say that a good GPA is all that matters or that we want to have fun and not be stuck in the library all weekend. We even eschew our areas of interest in favor of easier, less interesting subjects.

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BARAN | Tinder?

The “dating” app Tinder is ubiquitous at Cornell and most other college campuses. “Dating” is in quotations because, as most of us know, Tinder is usually not used to find significant others, although some have certainly had success in doing exactly that. Most Tinder users in my demographic see the app as a conduit to casual hookups. Tinder and other apps like it do have a function in society, but the way in which they’re used now is aiding the degradation of our society’s morals. At the risk of sounding like a prudish Luddite, let me explain.

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BARAN | The Average and the Averagest

I had a lot of time to reflect on my first year at Cornell this summer. During those reflections, I was plagued by one realization in particular: Cornell students have a massive superiority complex. Most of the students here go about their lives believing they are among an elite group of students that is smarter than the majority of their peers studying or working elsewhere. We look at college rankings, standardized test scores and other meaningless metrics, and construe our success in them as intellectual superiority. There’s a reason most of us are from privileged backgrounds.