I write in response to “College Shouldn’t Be a Breeze” by Christian Baran ’22. He wrote, “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.” This is all too true at Cornell. I define this worldview as “conveyor belt philosophy,” and it is the predominant, although not the only, philosophy I see at Cornell. Conveyor belt philosophy values getting the highest GPA for the least amount of work, and then taking a gap year to find oneself.
.Reading Irene Hartmann’s grad letter to the editor regarding our upcoming event with former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Monday, Nov. 4, we could not help but think about how Hartmann may have benefited from attending our first event of the semester with David French, then of National Review, now with The Dispatch. French spent much of his time here warning us against embracing the politics of war, enmity and assumption. It is clear that this prudent advice has not been heeded. One need only make use of the link Hartmann provided in her letter to dismiss the careless charges of defending pedophiles she leveled against Gov. Walker.
Having been a student in two international graduate programs as well as a facilitator in many international training courses, the intercultural interactions are usually extremely enriching, while working through the normal friction that arises with differences. I have fond memories of one colleague who managed to hijack just about any topic with lengthy commentary on social justice issues. When you were sleep-deprived and merely wanted to absorb the information from a lecture that was crucial for an exam or finishing a paper, it could be intensely irritating. Nevertheless, there was always a kernel of truth in the injustices he pointed out. The professors were reasonably adept at weaving the discussion back to the original objectives of the lecture while valuing his often tangential input.
There are many reasons to oppose bringing former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to Cornell’s campus. From his attacks on public sector unions (while hiding behind a unionized police force) to accepting campaign donations from a lead manufacturer before then passing laws blocking families of children poisoned by lead paint from pursuing legal remedies, to helping Catholic priests who were defrocked for “substantiated cases of sexual abuse of a minor” receive or renew professional licenses that gave child molesters access to vulnerable populations, Scott Walker is the poster boy for conservatism. While some are shocked and insulted that he would be brought to campus, I am personally grateful that Cornell Republicans are publicly embracing unflinching conservatism as demonstrated by Walker. Although the talk will likely focus on anti-union rhetoric under the guise of the “free market,” there is no denying that by welcoming Walker to campus, Cornell Republicans are co-signing political patronage in the form of dark money donations and giving quarter to pedophiles instead of prosecuting them. For many of us on the left who oppose this behavior in the Democratic Party as well, it is a welcome relief that Republicans are finally willing to show the world who they are and what they stand for.
There is concern among a number of us who support the goals of the city’s Green New Deal but watch the city advance development that is inconsistent with the necessity to reduce — not increase — local greenhouse gas emissions. The latter concern is exacerbated by the comments of several alder persons who voted for the GND but now question even the extraordinarily minor budget commitment to make their pronouncement substantive. Months ago in the wake of the contention over Cornell’s North Campus Residential Expansion, the Planning and Economic Development Board wrote the Common Council asking for training to competently analyze projects for their greenhouse gas and climate change implications — a request which has apparently been ignored. Recently, the director of planning and economic development admitted that she and her current staff could not produce a substantive GND. Moreover, we all know that it has taken existing staff and local consultants three years and running to create a Green Building Policy with codification and implementation still months off.
I’m a Chinese Ph.D. student who came to Cornell to pursue the world’s best education and technologies, hoping to one day make a contribution toward the evolution of all human societies. I usually follow political news but always stay apolitical myself, since I like to keep my life simple and focused on science. However, upon reading two recent articles from The Sun — entitled “Claims of Vandalized Pro-Hong Kong Posters Bring Overseas Tensions to Cornell” and “When Victims Become Perpetrators: The Human Condition of Chinese Students” — and the pro-Hong Kong protest slogans actively appearing around campus, I’m deeply concerned by the serious misinformation and lack of communication between the Chinese and American communities. I’ve never felt so unrepresented before, and the past few weeks have been the most difficult time during the six years I’ve spent at Cornell. I’m not writing to directly contradict the opinions from those aforementioned articles.
A recent column titled “Why I’m Choosing Not To Seek Professional Mental Health Care” worried me greatly. I respect the writer’s ability to make her own choices, but I am writing to disagree vehemently with the article’s argument that lack of personal responsibility is the cause of mental illness. In ambiguously referencing “mental health” without defining her usage of the term, the author failed to make the distinction between transient mental health struggles, such as being stressed at one point, and an ongoing chronic disease, such as generalized anxiety, depression or seasonal affective disorder. There is a difference here, and it’s not negligible. The article suggests that things like “a call, an emptied afternoon” are all that she has needed in the past to restore balance to her mental health — and it’s great that she is coming to that realization.
Yesterday, The Sun published a column by Kristi Lim ’21 entitled, “Why I’m Choosing Not to Seek Professional Mental Health Care,” in which the author discusses not only her own personal experiences with mental health, but also claims that “it is easy to use [professional help] to substitute the difficult work of directly resolving an issue.” While personal approaches to mental health can vary based on individual needs, this piece promotes a dangerous attitude towards mental health care and further stigmatizes those who experience mental health challenges. While The Sun already failed to provide a list of resources with the article, the publication of this article also served to compound the stigma already associated with seeking help. Though there are a variety of methods that one may use to support one’s own mental health and many cultural approaches to mental health, we push back on the idea that looking for help, whether through professional counseling or through close friends or family, is equivalent to admitting that there is something wrong with you or that you are unable to manage your life. The truth is that mental health is a team effort, and it should be framed as such. A plethora of medical and psychological research backs the effectiveness of professional mental health support.
The Sun’s Facebook comments section needs to be moderated. The comments on Amelia Zohore’s ’21 latest piece, “Loteria, the Ivy League Stripper,” makes it clear that The Sun’s online platform has become a vehicle for those who aim to impugn the essential dignity of The Sun’s columnists as well as marginalized groups. Commentary below Zohore’s column and other posts by The Sun frequently contains language that perpetuates hatred toward low-income people, women, nonbinary people and people of color. Implementing a clear and concise set of rules about what constitutes an appropriate comment within The Sun’s social media pages will promote productive discourse and preserve the essential dignity of columnists and identity groups the paper frequently discusses. There is a precedent for this kind of action.
When I moved to Ithaca as a freshman in fall 2010, Cornell’s response to multiple deaths by suicide the semester before was both swift and controversial, yet undeniable: fences on the bridges. Today? It’s deafening silence. It’s now been two weeks since Gregory Eells, the former Director of Cornell’s Counseling and Psychological Services, died by suicide. Until his departure to the University of Pennsylvania just months ago, Eells spent the past 15 years working intimately with students here in both his capacity as a health care provider to our community and alongside us in our campus governance and advocacy efforts. The Sun’s reporting of this tragedy misses the mark.