Fall break was quite a time, a beloved break spent simply being. I visited my sister in Hartford, Connecticut. She attends Trinity College, a school less “prestigious” than Cornell, sure, but filled with some neat people. Friday morning. My sister goes to class.
I don’t mean to get political…but this country’s current administration is made up of a bunch heartless monsters and unqualified fear-mongers. Great, now that I’ve got that out of my system, we can continue. On election night two years ago, as Trump’s numbers were climbing, I was on Skype call with a very worried friend of mine who was frantically refreshing the polls every five minutes. I clearly remember saying to her, “trust me, there is no way he’s going to win,” and I believed it. I was so confident, in fact, that I went to bed early that evening without even waiting for the final results.
There are a variety of ways in which Cornell students take on additional responsibilities across campus. A non-exhaustive list includes student organization leaders, student-athletes, resident assistants, shared governance representatives and teaching assistants. In addition to being an essential part of diversifying and augmenting one’s resume, these leadership positions, formal and informal, provide valuable opportunities for academic, professional and personal growth. It is an integral component of one’s professional and personal development, and, as a result, most students hold multiple leadership positions across campus. A consequence of this, however, is that for many students a significant portion of their non-academic time here is spent fulfilling the associated responsibilities of every leadership position they hold.
This week, an alarming United Nations report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicated that by 2040, the world we know — with abundant food, relatively infrequent natural disasters, and, uh, Southeast Asia — will be but a fleeting memory. The IPCC concluded that avoiding catastrophe will require “rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure… and industrial systems.” As one climate writer explains, these goals require an “immediate, coordinated crash program of re-industrialization, involving every major country in the world,” which is difficult to imagine considering “nothing even remotely similar has ever happened” in human history. Reading the report, it’s clear we have two choices: either save the world, costing big corporations their money, or destroy it, costing millions of vulnerable people their lives. On the heels of the UN report, CNN published some suggestions for concerned citizens seeking ways to take action. Paramount to averting the impending apocalypse is, it insists, that consumers “change their lifestyle and consumption patterns to more sustainable alternatives.” One example: “Using smart thermostats or more efficient air conditioners.”
This summer, the well-renowned and much-loved water treatment course CEE 4540 was deliberately dismantled by the CEE Curriculum Committee and quietly replaced with a hastily assembled, entirely redefined course under the same number. For the last three months, our ad-hoc team of CEE 4540 supporters (155+ students, alumni and staff) has been questioning this decision. The Curriculum Committee has repeatedly dismissed and scolded us. It appears that the University approaches curriculum from a “parent knows best” mindset. At no point during curriculum review were students or alumni asked for direct input.
We’re sure you’ve heard it a million times before. We’re sure you’ve scrolled past a “register to vote” meme on Facebook or have swiped through a voter registration filter on Snapchat. But we’re not sure that the message has stuck with you. And we’re telling you here, student to student, Cornellian to Cornellian, friend to friend, to make sure it sticks. According to the Campus Vote Project, turnout among college students has reached record lows in recent years.
I write as a retired English and history teacher to protest the use of the term “conservative” to describe the politics of the current Republican party in Matthew McGowen’s article about Representative Tom Reed’s recent visit with 12 campus Republicans. I also marvel that a presumably well-educated college student quoted in the article can question why he might experience some “social backlash” at Cornell wearing clothing bearing the name of a president who calls climate change a hoax, extols “pussy grabbing” on a campus (like all other college campuses) where sexual assault is a serious problem and refers to the nations of origin of many Cornell students as “shithole countries.”
I’d love to have any of the twelve students who met with Reed explain to me what any of the above characterizations have in common with political conservatism, and I suggest that all of these students, along with Matthew McGowen, ought to take a survey political science course while at Cornell. I must also add that it offers us “left-leaning Ithacans” some pleasure to learn that Reed’s visit attracted 12 twelve students on a campus of 24,123. It looks like education might be working! Barbara Regenspan
These days, I find myself engaged in conversation, both inside and outside of the exam room, about the political process and its relevance to health and wellbeing. How can I get more involved in my community? Is it possible for me to feel better connected to those around me, and to something with larger meaning in the world? How do I make sure my voice is heard? Deep questions like these are bound to come up in the course of intensely pursuing study here at Cornell.
Waterfalls, luscious foliage and beautifully crafted gorges created by Mother Nature herself are all located within our college campus. We’re just a couple steps away from nature thriving in its prime time, flaunting its true colors. I’m not writing to advertise the Fall Creek Gorges or to convince parents and prospective students. Instead, I’m writing as an overthinking and overstressed individual telling you just how great flowing water and tiny dandelions can be. Over the weekend, I went on a Fall Creek Gorge Trail Hike, motivated to familiarize myself with the overlooked and neglected beauties I never took the time to deeply appreciate.