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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.

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BARAN | Earth Day Upgrade

Another Earth Day has come and gone. The lengthy Instagram stories of natural wonders have timed out and with their expiration has also gone most of the Earth-friendly sentiment they delivered for a day. Some of my friends in the Ecology House, where I live, complain about people who give the Earth shoutouts over social media on Earth Day but only continue with the same wasteful lifestyles the next. While I have noticed this phenomenon with certain people, it’s not the biggest problem I see with Earth Day. The holiday celebrates our planet and advocates better treatment of it, but it also ignores our treatment of Earth’s cherished non-human constituents.

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BARAN | What’s Your Venmo?

Many of us at Cornell use some sort of mobile payment system multiple times a week, if not nearly every day. Venmo, Uber, Apple Pay, Lyft and PayPal are just some of the mobile payment platforms linked to our debit and credit cards that we rely on. Generation Zs and millennials turn first to mobile wallets when we’re with friends. But to our great frustration, we rarely find the same ease of payment when dealing with merchants. Potential buyers in our demographic often find ourselves unable to make purchases because we don’t have cash or a card on us in person.

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BARAN | No Place Like Home

Home for Fall Break. For Thanksgiving. For the deliciously long Winter Break. Back to familiar haunts, faces and foods. The mildly annoying barrage of “back at it” Snapchats and Instagram posts.


BARAN | Flip to a Flip-Phone?

When my mom dropped me off at Cornell two weekends ago after a family funeral, I had to screenshot directions to get back home and send them to her. Her tiny phone made the pictures grainy and hard to read. Still, she persevered and managed to get back to Maryland safely. She probably squinted and looked down at the phone more often than was safe, but she did it. And she went through this whole ordeal with a smile, for the alternative was to her much worse than some occasional inconvenience.


BARAN | Watch Where You Sit

It’s the first day of class. You walk into Bailey Hall and enter into your oversized Intro to Oceanography course. The rakish professor, Bruce Monger, casts his penetrating gaze on you. He peers into your soul and instantly divines your stance on climate change and your innermost secrets. Unnerved but not surprised (you’ve heard the tales about Bruce), you glance about for what will be your unofficially assigned seat for the rest of the semester.


BARAN | Climate Change Needs Alternate Perspectives

Every time a debate about climate change arises around me, I grind my teeth and waver. Should I add my opinion? Will others hear my perspective and denounce me as ignorant? Sometimes they do, but I usually speak my mind anyway. I tell them about an alternative perspective that is constantly weighing on my mind: are humans even obligated to try to mitigate climate change?