Common Council Votes to Support Living Wage for Workers in County

The City of Ithaca’s Common Council joined with the Town of Ithaca and the Tompkins County Legislature to support a living wage for all workers in the county by a unanimous vote Wednesday. The event attracted a large turnout from residents of Tompkins County, as 30 to 40 concerned citizens migrated from a rally outside to the City Hall meeting to voice their support for the resolution. During an almost hour-long public comment section at the meeting, many of the attendees spoke out in support of a living wage, citing personal experiences, nationwide trends and economic studies. “This is the right moment to push,” according to Bill Goldsmith of the board of public works.  Goldsmith cited a letter to President Barack Obama from 600 economists, including seven Nobel Prize winners, which claims increases in the minimum wage have little or no negative effect on unemployment. A worker at the local recycling plant who fought for a living wage and won, spoke out at the council meeting on behalf of others who are not as fortunate.

Harvard Professor Explores Limits, Definitions of Life

Prof. Sophia Roosth, history of science, Harvard University, spoke in Kaufmann Auditorium Thursday about the limits of the biological and how we define life in a new age of science, which defy typical expectations and definitions of life. The lecture, titled “Unlikely Life: Interrogating the Limits of the Biological,” focused on several examples of “unlikely life,” such as the development of the T7.1 virus. Led by Prof. Drew Endy of MIT, synthetic biologists developed this virus in order to better understand the T7 virus, Roosth said. “Instead of trying to rebuild the model, Endy’s team wanted to rebuild the phage to be more understandable,” Roosth said. “That’s a symptom of the move to manufacture in the life sciences — comprehensibility becomes a design principle, and making becomes a form of inquiry.

Local Activist Anna Kelles to Draw on Community Organizing Past if Elected to Legislature

Local Ithaca resident and activist Anna Kelles is running as an independent candidate to represent the second district in the Tompkins County Legislature. The Fall Creek district includes parts of North Campus and lower Collegetown and is home to many students and affiliates of the University. Kelles will run against Democratic candidate Nate Shinagawa ’05, who resigned from his position representing the fourth district in the Tompkins County Legislature so he could run to represent the second district. According to Kelles, it is important to create policies which encourage landowners to update their properties, as it would create affordable and livable conditions for students and residents of Ithaca. “Having someone in office that understands that people need a home and people need a certain quality of life, [and] that anytime I have an opportunity to update policies to do that I always will,” Kelles said.

Girls Who Code Founder Speaks at Cornell

Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code — a nonprofit that aims to increase gender parity in technology by promoting computer science among women — shared her story and mission at a lecture Wednesday. Saujani began her talk, titled “Workforce of the Future,” by highlighting several statistics concerning women in computer science. While there are about 75,000 tech jobs open today, in five years there will be approximately 1.4 million jobs open in computing related fields, according to Saujani. However, of those 1.4 million jobs, only 29 percent are projected to be filled by U.S. graduates and only three percent are expected to be filled by women. “At a time when we’ve become more and more reliant on technology, we’re pushing women out,” Saujani said.

United States-Latin American Relations Committee Turns 50

The Committee on United States-Latin American Relations, a Cornell-based organization focused on promoting social justice in the Americas, will commemorate its 50th anniversary this weekend with a variety of panels, discussions and lectures. Since its founding in 1965, CUSLAR has impacted a variety of communities, from teaching Spanish language classes to local Ithaca families to resettling political refugees from Chile to Ithaca. Bill Rogers, who was Cornell’s current University chaplain, founded CUSLAR with several Cornell students in 1965 against a backdrop of political unrest. At the time, the United States government often intervened in the politics of Latin American countries, involving itself in the CIA-backed coup in Brazil in 1964 and in the Dominican Republic’s stifled revolution in 1965, according to the committee. CUSLAR harnessed existing campus unrest to educate the community further on the relationship between the United States government and Latin American countries.