Everyone always says Cornell isn’t the place, it’s the people. Maybe this is naive, but it’s not like that for me. I know that I will take the people I’ve met here with me wherever I go (and if you think you know better, that bonds grow weak and memories fade, please don’t tell me.) My brilliant roommates, my dazzling best friends and my beloved coworkers will stay with me. So, for me, what I’m really saying goodbye to is the place. Confession: I didn’t love Cornell the first time I visited.
Warning: The following content contains sensitive material about sexual assault. Students discussed in this article have been given pseudonyms to protect their identities. A week ago, I found out, during a devastatingly casual conversation, that a charming, personable man I know and liked on campus had assaulted a dear friend of mine when we were freshmen. The details of their encounter are not necessary for this article, but suffice to say the story was every bit as horrible and heartbreaking as that of Chanel Miller’s, as Erica Kinsman’s, as every story of rape or sexual assault that I’m sure you’ve read of or heard about.
This man was well-known as a “good guy” — sure, maybe a little insensitive, maybe casually arrogant with the privilege that comes from being a tall, handsome white dude, but inherently a good person. I’d heard about his “creepy” behavior from girls he’d ghosted and one-night-stood over the years, and always assumed that their words were reflections of his immaturity. But the details of this particular incident brought me clarity.
I learned from Dwight Schrute that “Cornell is an excellent school. Without its agricultural program, we probably wouldn’t have cabbage.” But I think Cornell should cease all research efforts to improve the modern cabbage and put its considerable manpower and resources into creating a teleportation device. I am not being flippant; on Saturday, Nov. 30, I realized, with a clear mind and full heart, that my Sunday flight into Syracuse would inevitably be delayed and my bus into Ithaca missed. This weekend was hard on everyone.
There comes a moment in every undergraduate’s life when we aspire to something more. For some, it’s when you’re living in your first apartment in Collegetown. For the more ambitious, it’s when you still inhabit a cramped dorm. Either way, the day comes when you utter five dreaded words: “Let’s plan a dinner party.” Your housemates look at you doubtfully, likely remembering the time you cracked eggs into a pan and forgot to turn on the gas for a wild and confusing half hour. They suggest alternatives: Why not just plan a group outing to Koko?
My freshman year at Cornell was probably the best year of my life so far. I stayed up until 5 a.m. every night participating in hallway-wide gossip sessions, proudly strode into Sunday RPCC brunches in pajamas and last night’s mascara and never, ever called home — because when you’re 18 and having the time of your life, why would you? The sheer novelty of the college experience, the number of smart-mouthed, like-minded people I met at Cornell, definitely contributed to my incredible year. But upon reflection, I realize there was another factor. Although I’m sure the creators of North Campus meant to construct another damp and depressing group of dorms (West Campus reminds me forcibly of J.K. Rowling’s Knockturn Alley), they somehow stumbled upon the formula for a home, a community unto itself.
It’s spooky season, and Halloweekend will soon be upon us. College girls everywhere have a lot to contend with in October, but at Cornell, where mid-Fall heralds the low 30s, All Hallows Eve becomes downright miserable. As a wise and benevolent junior, I thought I would share my knowledge with the legions. You’ve tired out the regular options. All of your friends are going as risky business (I understand the premise of the costume, but “Risky Business” is the name of the movie so technically they should text the group chat that they’re going as Joel Goodzen.
Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences boasts 40 majors, 59 minors and more than 41 foreign languages. It offers a dazzlingly vast array of subjects, a striking testament to the academic diversity that is representative of Cornell as a whole. I am extremely proud of my college; at very few other academic institutions could I sprint from an Italian discussion to an Oceanography lecture, only to backpedal to retrieve the planner I forgot in my government seminar. The College of Arts and Sciences’ academic breadth is its mark of distinction, its greatest strength. However, this breadth also represents the college’s greatest weakness.
As a 20-year-old with the attention span of a squirrel, it takes a truly phenomenal professor to hold my attention for 50 minutes, let alone an hour and 25. Cornell definitely has more than its fair share of life-changing teachers; I’ve had about one per year, and considering the implications of “life-changing,” I know I’m inordinately lucky. But it’s not just luck. I seek out — and successfully pinpoint — these professors with the help of a website called RateMyProfessor. Most students have heard of RateMyProfessor, but not many consider it a serious tool in the biannual quest for classes that fulfill requirements and don’t make one want to throw oneself down Libe Slope.
It’s 1 a.m. in the Alice Cook Gothics and my contact-lensed eyes are burning as I stare into my laptop screen. My roommate is snoring gently and all I have to do is fire off a few quick notes before I can hit the twin bed. I assume my signature slump against my pillows and start typing. “Dear Professor, would you be so kind as to …?” No, it’s not the 1800s. “I was wondering if I could ask you to …” Why am I wondering instead of just asking?