When I first came to Cornell, I felt out of place. I am a first-generation student of color from a working-class background. My background made it so that I experienced macro and microaggressions constantly at Cornell — from being tokenized to being unable to navigate academic spaces that required cultural capital and “know-how” that I didn’t have. No one cared to demystify for me. It was only through the years that I created community and a sense of belonging by forging my own spaces and investing in issues and events that were important to me.
Think of a graduate student. We’re the chemistry teaching assistant who gave you consistent B’s on lab reports and the first-year writing seminar instructor who invited you to their office to talk about how they could support you. We’re the sleep-deprived, scatter-brained, sixth-year, glassware-dirtying person that you meet each morning. We’re the second-year Ph.D. student crying in an office as we stress about our upcoming qualifying exam. We graduate students interact with nearly every group on campus, but we’re often dismissed as an isolated, uninvested population that is just here to finish a degree.
It’s possible I wouldn’t be writing to you as a black student on this campus without the occurrence of the Willard Straight Hall Takeover in 1969. This semester marked the 50th anniversary of the event, and despite a 12-page Sun special issue, many students know nothing about its history. The Takeover forced the University and institutions nationwide not only to accept black students as names on the registrar but to recognize us as part of its fabric. As a black woman on this campus, there is no way I could have made it this far in my Cornell career without acknowledging the men and women who paved the way for the rest of us. Yet so many don’t even know what it is.
After two years, two months and three days (but who’s counting), my time as the Student-Elected Trustee has begun to come to a close. Serving as the Student-Elected Trustee has been one of the greatest honors in my lifetime. In an act of nostalgia and personal curiosity, I spent this past week looking through my past viewpoints and notes to pull out my most memorable lessons from the Hill and the Board of Trustees. While I still am unable to describe industrial and labor relations to my grandma in Chinese, I’m happy to report that my time at Cornell has been filled with learning moments that I hope others reading this can carry forward. I learned that organizational traditions are not all pure.
It goes without saying that mental health is a major conversation on campus. Currently, some of the mental health services offered at Cornell include Let’s Talk and CAPS, which are offered at Cornell Health, and EARS, a student-run organization. While all are extremely important services, all are arguably “downstream” mental health services. Since they are “downstream,” they can only be utilized by individuals who are currently having to address their mental health issues. There are very few specific services in place that attempt to dispel systems that can lead to mental health issues.
ByShivani Parikh, Aashka Piprottar, Hansen Tai, Jeannie Yamazaki, Jong Han & Kumar Nandanampati |
The question of whether Asian Americans qualify as people of color has become increasingly pertinent, especially after The Sun published an article about admissions statistics for the class of 2023, stating, “Nearly 55 percent of this year’s admitted students are ‘students of color’ — underrepresented minorities or Asian Americans — a new record for Cornell.”
So then, are Asian Americans people of color? It’s complicated. Takao Ozawa v. United States (1922) was a case in which the United States Supreme Court found Japanese-American Takao Ozawa ineligible for naturalization because the courts deemed him to not be white. United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) was a case in which the Supreme Court unanimously decided that Bhagat Singh Thind, an Indian Sikh man who identified as a “high caste aryan, of full Indian blood,” was racially ineligible for naturalized citizenship in the U.S. Associate Justice George Sutherland said that authorities on the subject of race were in disagreement over which people were included in the scientific definition of the Caucasian race, so Sutherland instead chose to rely on the common understanding of race rather than the scientific understanding of race. Concurrently and subsequently were the advents of calls to action for the government to address the “Yellow Peril,” Japanese internment during World War II, and fear of the “Hindoo Invasion.”
Asian Americans in the 1960s joined the fight for ethnic studies departments and for courses in higher education to teach them about themselves through a lens that was not anthropological or militaristic, but through focusing on the history of people of different minority ethnicity in the U.S. The combined determination of the Latin American Student Organization, the Black Student Union, the Intercollegiate Chinese for Social Action, the Mexican American Student Confederation, the Philippine American Collegiate Endeavor, La Raza, the Native American Students Union and later the Asian American Political Alliance galvanized California and the rest of the nation with the first student strike.
Oh, how the stars have aligned! Check out your sex-o-scope for the next month to ensure you’re prepared for whatever dirty delights are in your future! Aries (March 21 – April 19): The piercing on your foreskin will get snagged on the inside of your second-favorite inflatable sex doll and you’ll be forced to walk to Cornell Health with an Inflatable Judy Doll dangling from your flaccid micropenis. The nurse will look exactly like your mother. Taurus (April 20 – May 20): While singing “Your Body Is A Wonderland” in the back of a broken-down tour bus, a lustful John Mayer will give you mediocre, toothy head.
Big-eyed and stunned, my friends and I gasped while reading a brochure for a West Campus main house. It was as if someone listened to all our complaints about our freshman dorms and knew exactly what we wanted. Clean restrooms, air conditioning and proximity to Collegetown were enough to convince us that West is the best. But no exceptional amenity comes without a hefty price tag. Living in the West Campus House System includes a particularly frustrating commitment: enrolling in a dining contract for unlimited meal swipes — a massive $3,000 semesterly bill that totals to a rough $4,500 cost of living on campus.
Last month, the Cornell administration announced a review of our campus’s mental health system. Throughout the last year, Cornell Graduate Students United has campaigned for just such a review. Over 900 graduate students signed our petition asking for an external review of the system, in addition to other demands, and we are glad the administration has finally acknowledged the mental health crisis on campus. Whether or not the proposed mental health review succeeds, however, depends on its structure. As it stands, there is almost no public information on the administration’s proposed mental health review.
Warning: The following content contains sensitive material about sexual assault.
Assault, particularly sexual assault, is supposed to be taken seriously, but are student organizations on campus complicit in excusing these behaviors? With Sexual Assault Awareness Week upon us, many find solace in the knowledge that there is extensive dialogue on this subject, but are mortified that there are so many survivors on Cornell’s campus alone. Even more disturbing, many organizations on campus either do not detail actions and consequences attached to assault and sexual assault or have a formal risk management policy that they do not follow. In my personal experience, every single organization that I have taken a significant part in has been incapable or unwilling to take any concrete action in regard to assault, even after those in charge were made aware of such instances. For example, I approached someone on the E-board of one particular organization in which I was heavily involved to talk about a traumatic experience with another member of the club.