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BENITEZ | The Real Cost of Bitcoin

Bitcoin mining consumed nearly one percent of the United States’ electricity last year. Globally, Bitcoin’s estimated yearly power usage is greater than that of Ireland, or 30 times more than that of Tesla vehicles. Considering this, one wonders whether the societal benefits of the world’s foremost cryptocurrency offsets its significant energy consumption, which expedites greater, existential risks like irreversible climate change. Does Bitcoin justify its power bill? First, while Bitcoin is often described as an emerging currency, its illiquidity — you can’t just buy groceries with it — makes it as an asset best-likened to gold.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Provost Kotlikoff and VP Opperman on ‘Being a Graduate Student in a Harvey Weinstein World at Cornell University’

To the Editor:

We are writing in regard to the recent guest column, “Being a Graduate Student in a Harvey Weinstein World at Cornell University,” to emphasize that sexual harassment or coercion of any kind has no place at Cornell. The author is absolutely correct that graduate students and, indeed, all members of the Cornell community should be protected from sexual coercion and that academic success should never be linked to such pressures. For that reason, it is important to be aware that Cornell Policy 6.4 clearly prohibits such misconduct. That policy defines “Sexual Coercion” as follows:

“To obtain compliance with sexual acts by using physically or emotionally manipulative actions or statements or expressly or implicitly threatening the person or another person with negative actions. Examples of sexual coercion include statements such as “I will ruin your reputation,” or “I will tell everyone,” or “your career (or education) at Cornell will be over.”

The policy also defines Sexual Harassment as follows:

A form of protected-status harassment that constitutes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other oral, written, visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that unreasonably interferes with the individual’s work or academic performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment under any of the following conditions:

Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct either explicitly or implicitly is (1) made a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic status, or (2) used as a basis for an employment or academic decision affecting that person; or
The conduct is sufficiently (1) persistent, severe or pervasive, and (2) has the purpose or effect of altering the conditions of an individual’s employment or academic pursuits in a way that a reasonable person would find abusive, hostile, or offensive.

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GUEST ROOM | Being a Graduate Student in a Harvey Weinstein World at Cornell University

Editors note: This column is being published anonymously for the safety of the author. 

One of the greatest days in my life was when I was accepted into a Cornell University graduate program. And one of the worst days was when, during spring semester open house weekend, a Cornell professor pressured me into sleeping with him. Being a graduate student at Cornell is a mixed bag. Some grads come in knowing which labs and advisors they’ll be working with, but others, like me, are lost at sea. The whole first year is a process of searching for a home and for someone who wants to work with you.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: On the grad tax in the GOP tax plan

To the Editor:

In the upcoming days, individuals from the House of Representatives and the Senate will head to a conference committee to resolve the differences between the two competing Republican tax plans and craft a final piece of tax legislation for the President to sign into law. Currently, provisions in the House bill would cripple graduate education in the United States. We are writing to explain why these proposed changes would devastate the graduate student community at Cornell and to express our frustration with current narratives being used by academic institutions, including Cornell, to defend graduate students and workers. At Cornell, most PhD students receive a tuition-waiver,* meaning that we are charged tuition for our studies, which the University then turns around and pays in full. This is presumably because we provide a service to the university, much in the same way that we would be unable to complete our research without Cornell’s resources — a justification used for the intellectual property agreement we sign with the university upon matriculating.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: On the Student Assembly’s fiduciary duties

To the Editor:

The primary duty of the Student Assembly is to make decisions in the best interest of the entire student body. This past semester, the Student Assembly undertook one of its most important responsibilities — allocating the Student Activity Fee for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years. Our sole guiding principle has been to set and allocate a fee in the best, long-term interests of the undergraduate student body, and we firmly believe that the Undergraduate Student Activity Fee allocations as the Assembly has set them fulfill that intention. The new fee gives substantial increases in funding (averaging 14 percent and totaling $185,000) to 15 different campus organizations: ALANA, Alternative Breaks, Class Councils, Convocation Committee, Cornell Concert Commission, Cornell University Programming Board, Cornell University Emergency Medical Service, Haven, International Students Union, Multicultural Greek Letter Council, Orientation Steering Committee, Outdoor Odyssey, Slope Day Programming Board, Student Activities Funding Commission and Welcome Weekend Committee. Eight organizations saw no change in funding: Big Red Bikes, Club Insurance, Community Partnership Funding Board, Empathy Assistance and Referral Service, Cornell Environmental Collaborative, Cornell Minds Matter, Senior Days and the Women’s Resource Center.

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HAGOPIAN | On Fair-Mindedness

Mark Twain once said “when I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Sometimes my own blessed mother says something that makes me do an intellectual double take. She usually follows her insight up with the phrase, “feel free to use that in a column,” so that’s what I’m doing now. Mom was a women’s studies major (back when it was women’s studies and not gender studies; don’t get her started on that) and is therefore my main resource for feminist thought. Last week the subject of Trump came up, and I asked her how so many women could have voted for him after seeing the Access Hollywood tape.

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SEX ON THURSDAYS | Cornell Purity Test (Signs You’re a Hoe)

I fucking love my friends. They’re the bravest, funniest, most self-destructive hoes I know. The following list is a tribute to them. It’s the new purity test, the Cornell purity test, because fuck Rice. Lost your Cornell ID going out 3+ times.

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SEX ON THURSDAYS | Losing My Virginity: A Memoir

From the painfully awkward day my parents and I had the “Sex Talk,” I knew exactly how I wanted to lose my virginity. It would be magnificent — a combination of all of the steamy sex scenes I had secretly watched on the 2 p.m. daytime soap operas. A warm, candle-lit room with a plush bed and silky white sheets, rose petals sprinkled around the room in a shape of a heart, and bubbly Dom Perignon awaiting my arrival. My future boyfriend would be gentle and making love would be beautiful. Growing up with these elaborate expectations and years of my parents reinforcing their conservative point of view on my virginity, it was no surprise that I was on the verge of graduating from college and had never had sex.

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SONG | Humanities Majors Aren’t Homeless Wannabes

Penniless. Paint-spattered jeans. Living under a cardboard canopy with peace sign stickers peeling by the edges and a battered typewriter bought off the streets. This is what flashes through the mind of someone who asks me, “Why are you an English major?”

Yes, this is the exaggerated version of a starving artist — the kind of writer with the wild hair and the collection of quills made of feathers plucked from pigeons on the streets. But I swear that’s what my parents and friends picture in that panic-throttling moment when I say, “I want a degree in the humanities.” Their eyes go blank and nervous laughter trickles into the suddenly-awkward air, often accompanied by holding onto some sort of railing for emotional support.

LAM | Lessons from That ‘70s Show: Leave the Flare Jeans, Disco Through the Next 3 Years

Battling the boredom that comes with being stuck in a Queens suburbs for Thanksgiving, I decided to watch other people have more fun in a similar situation by revisiting That ’70s Show. For those who are unfamiliar, That ’70s Show is a sitcom about teenager Eric Forman and his adventures with ditzy friends and family in the suburbs of 1970s Wisconsin. A show that travels back to the 1970s — a decade of distasteful fashion, politics, cars — it features simple storylines with relatable humor and devilishly creative camerawork that is almost avant-garde for a network show. There really are no adventures in Point Place, WI –the lyrics of the theme, “Hanging out down the street.  The same old thing, we did last week,” divulge this readily in the title sequence.