Guest Room

GUEST ROOM | Democracy, Diversity and Earth Day

I grew up in Ithaca, graduated from Cornell 34 years ago, and return this weekend to participate in the Ivy Policy Conference which concludes on Sunday, the 48th Earth Day.  That confluence of personal, educational, professional and societal milestones gives one pause to consider just how much I personally, and we collectively, have learned about the health of the planet, and about our ability — and most importantly our interest — to help it. The dire situation that the planet is in peril is not in question.  Human caused climate change is a fact (sorry, fake news enthusiasts), and it is causing increasingly costly impacts on everything from agriculture, to forest health, to human health.  That is not to say greenhouse gas emissions and global warming is the only environmental crisis: plastic pollution killing marine species; dumping water and air toxics in predominantly poor and minority areas; our addiction to pesticides; and our seemingly obsessive fixation on consumerism, are but a few of the other challenges we face.

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LIEBERMAN | What We Leave Behind

It always comes on a day when everyone’s busy, not hectic busy, but dredging through the week busy. It always comes on a day when I have a lot of objectively important things to be doing. Today, it’s an assignment in the archives, and I’m obsessing over these old, crinkly papers that are tied up in white thread and then covered in younger, crinkly paper. I’ve spent hours staring at cursive writing I know that I have no chance of deciphering. I’m trying to find what was left: an inventory.

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PINERO | Cardi B and the Era of “Big Mood” Politics

About thirty seconds into Cardi B’s first appearance on Love & Hip-Hop: New York, I joined her legion of loyal Instagram followers. She was animated, real and side-splittingly funny.  In two and a half years, I watched a former sex worker rocket past the glass ceiling of D-list reality TV (underneath which Latinx/Black women of humble beginnings are often confined) and onto the mainstage of American pop culture. As a woman of color, her explosive success is more than a pleasant surprise — it’s a delightful shock. I never thought I would see someone so boldly Afro-Latina, so proudly female and so blatantly hood be so widely embraced.

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SONG | Cornell Student Leaders, Get Your Priorities Straight

Remember when we were laughing at the Trump administration? Now it’s Cornell’s turn. If we can really let something on the equivalence of Pepe upend the entire idea of democracy, we’re just as embarrassing as bad tweets and childish foreign affair rants. But let’s get real here — the actions of the Student Assembly were no surprise to anyone. Any student organization at Cornell doing this would be no surprise.

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GUEST ROOM | Saving Face, Losing Lives: The Political Importance of Cornell Suicides

Why is it that when we hear about hate crimes on campus, we can easily interpret such acts as political, systemically determined events — and are thus moved to anger — but when we hear of a student committing suicide in her own dorm room, all that we have to offer is our sympathy? Rather than reading her suicide as political, we deem it merely personal; a grieving process is initiated, and in a few weeks, the rest of the world moves on. When talking about suicide, one is inevitably pushed towards discussing the personal rather than the political. The individual circumstances or symptoms unique to the person – and not the social or political conditions which produced them – are what tend to shape discussions following a suicide. For suicide theorist Suman Gupta, this is because more often than not, the act of suicide is deemed by mental health authorities (and subsequently, the media) as an “involuntary” decision:
Regarded as persons with a psychological dysfunction and subject to pathological disorder .

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AHMAD | A Call for Diversity in Mental Health Services

In my sophomore year, I had a friend who went through the mental breakdown that all of us have at some point in our college careers. Some call it the pre-quarter life crisis, others call it an existential collapse, but I have termed it The Infamous “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life” Meltdown. As I said, I think we all experience this to an extent, but for some people, this breakdown affects them much more intensely than others. My friend, unfortunately, fell victim to the more severe end of the mental breakdown scale. Her parents were constantly pressuring her to go into a STEM field, but she had no interest in doing so.

Letter to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: S.A. President Candidates: ‘The Election Ends’

To the Editor:

After weeks of petitioning, campaigning and debate, the election results for the Student Assembly Presidential race have finally been released. As expected, we do not have the same reaction to this outcome, yet we both share a feeling of relief that the process has come to an end, and we both accept these results as valid. There were moments when we feared that the system would not provide a result the public could trust, but through patience and deliberation, we have arrived here. Nonetheless, we must address the public response to recent events. Although we understand that many students felt an attachment to the election, we cannot condone the personal attacks either of us witnessed.

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HUBSHER | Beasts of Burden

Yesterday marked the beginning of Cornell’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week. It is a time in which different Cornell groups come together to raise awareness about sexual assault on campus through activities, lectures and art campaigns. I’m not going to waste your time explaining why SAAW is necessary. As recently as the 1990’s, feminist groups were ridiculed, scrutinized and even punished for trying to bring light to the issue of campus sexual assault. Yes, we are so lucky that so many student organizations have worked to support SAAW, but sexual assault is still a taboo subject and I’m sure some schools are still so backwards that a week like this wouldn’t even be possible. I have to admit that events like this one, although I know how important they are, make me feel a little conflicted.

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GOROKH | What’s Eating Grad Students?

Grad students aren’t a particularly merry crowd. A recently published study claims that they are six (!) times more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression when compared to the general population. It’s just a single online study and so I wouldn’t put too much trust into the number, but if true this statistic would not surprise me. Nearly all of my friends in graduate school went through at least a period or two of near-clinical levels of woe and worry, and for some this is more of a permanent state. It doesn’t take a social scientist to come up with a list of explanation for this phenomenon.

Letter to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Open letter from ILR deans to administration on ILR-Human Ecology combination proposal

The following letter was sent to President Martha Pollack and Provost Michael Kotlikoff yesterday. Dear President Pollack and Provost Kotlikoff:

We are the living former deans of the ILR School, and we write to express our strong opposition to the suggestion to merge the ILR School and the College of Human Ecology presented in the Report from the Committee on Organizational Structures in the Social Sciences. We have the greatest respect for our colleagues in Human Ecology, but our experience as deans and faculty members of the ILR School persuades us that a merger would have grave consequences for the ILR School and would not advance the social sciences at Cornell. We are not alone in holding that view: a poll of ILR tenured faculty conducted two weeks ago reveals overwhelming opposition to a merger. Furthermore, ILR alumni also overwhelmingly oppose a merger, something we learned in our continuing interactions with those individuals.