Guest Room

GUEST ROOM | Pushing for Mental Health Reform at Cornell

Warning: The following content contains sensitive material about mental health and depression. Cornell’s response to six student suicides between 2009 and 2010 was the installation of nets over Ithaca’s gorges. These nets — monuments of the mental health crisis at Cornell — overshadow both Ithaca’s natural beauty and Cornell’s stellar research infrastructure. They remind us that something is wrong on Cornell’s campus. Six years after starting my astrophysics Ph.D., I still remember the first time I saw the nets.

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JONES | West Campus House Dinners Should Be Open to Everyone

One Saturday last spring, my friend and I found an open piano room in the basement of Becker House on West Campus to break away from reality for a moment. I talked, laughed, but also enjoyed the sounds of the piano I could produce. Inspired by my playing, my friend encouraged me to perform in Becker House’s talent show later that month, which he was hosting. Unfortunately, as we later discovered, because I was not a resident of Becker House, I was unable to participate in the talent show since it was held during a House Dinner. House Dinners, held every Wednesday night in each West Campus dining hall, are a distinct occasion in which the House Chef prepares a special menu, entertainment is provided by Cornell’s student organizations and faculty and students come together.

Letter to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Re: ‘One Nation Under God’

To the Editor:

When I read Michael Johns, Jr.’s column, I was both hurt and disappointed. Hurt by the implication that I — as an atheist — lack a proper moral framework, and disappointed that in the 21st century there are still those who cling to the belief that organized religion is a necessity for people to have morals. I do not feel a need, as an atheist, to attack the moral foundations of others, and I am quite confident in my morals and what I choose to believe. I do not feel a need to become religious, and yet some will continue to insist that I am, somehow, lost. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut ’44, “I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I’m dead.” I may not hold the fear of God in my heart, but I am perfectly capable as a human of formulating and understanding my own morals.

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DEMASSA & DELGADO | Student-Elected Trustee Candidates: Be Wary of Empty Policy Promises

Unlike its fellow Ivy League peers, Cornell stands alone as the only university to have a student in its Board of Trustees, which is composed of 64 voting members. We elect two trustees, a graduate and an undergraduate student, for two-year terms.
Once elected, each member signs a non-disclosure agreement. What this means is that board discussions, reasoning for decisions and the way in which each member votes is confidential. Take what you will from the justification for NDAs by current student-elected trustees Dustin Liu ’19 and Manisha Munasinghe grad, who in their Sun column said, “[The NDA] allows Board members to honestly discuss problems, bounce new and innovative ideas off of each other and safeguard the University’s long term strategies and plans in order to remain competitive with our peer institutions.”
Unlike the Student Assembly or other governing bodies on campus, the student-elected trustee holds a unique apportionment of power: The student-elected trustee wields more power and less accountability. This year’s election season has kicked into full swing.

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KAMBHAMPATY | Can You Still Get an MRS Degree Today?

Is it still possible, in this day and age, to obtain an MRS degree? For those who aren’t familiar, MRS degree is a term used to describe a woman who pursues a college education with the intention of finding a spouse. It was commonly used in the ’50s and ’60s when higher education was beginning to open up to women but still remained relatively inaccessible. For men, attending a university was a way to pursue an education and cultivate skills. For women, it was a way to get closer to these bright-futured men.

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WANG | On Yesterday, Song-Writing and Artificial Intelligence

By now, you’ve probably heard about the upcoming film Yesterday. It follows a struggling musician who gets the break of a lifetime when he’s rudely waylaid by a truck, and he awakens to a world suddenly forgetful of The Beatles. Through sheer bashfulness and chutzpah, he starts to “write” hit song after hit song from the Beatles catalog for a girl he’s after. We can guess where the movies goes: He gets the girl, writes the hit song, rides off into the sunset. The whole movie is a sundae in cinematic form: Sweet and reliable with a pleasant aftertaste.

Letter to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cornell Must Divest From Fossil Fuels

To the editor:

Fossil fuel divestment should be of interest to those of us in the Cornell community who would like to see our endowment improve its performance and wonder if a fossil-free portfolio could help the University accomplish this. Comparative analyses by Morgan Stanley Capital Investment since 2014 (retroactively to 2010) shows fossil-free funds yield 0.65 percent higher returns per year than funds including fossil fuel equities. The fossil-free funds returned 12.56 percent per year from 2014 to 2018. Compare this to Cornell’s endowment return of 7.8 percent. A 4.76 percent increase in yield over the past five years would have resulted in over $1 billion of increased assets for Cornell.

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CHANG | Identity Politics Is an Absolute Necessity

A friend recently told me that they didn’t think white supremacy was a large or hegemonic problem anymore. While I don’t deny that there have been material changes, like repealing the Chinese Exclusion Act with the Magnuson Act in 1943 or passing the Civil Rights Act in 1964, white supremacy undoubtedly exists both in our international and interpersonal communities. We can’t allow it to fester. On March 15, a 28-year-old man opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 49 and injuring at least 48 others. The shooter’s 74-page explanation of his motivation and 17-minute video of the shooting clue us into the horror of such violence and the justification for it.

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GUEST ROOM | An Ode to the Rich and Legacies

The recent college admissions scandal has highlighted many inconvenient truths about the college admissions process. The rich and powerful have a far greater ability to gain access to the nation’s best institutions. By and large, America’s elite institutions are not diverse and give preferential treatment to the admission of rich students. This privilege extends to Cornell. At Cornell, the majority of students come from high-income families.

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GUEST ROOM | President Pollack’s Lackluster Response

Eighty-five words. After the gruesome attacks that led to the death of at least 49 people and another 20 injured in New Zealand, President Martha Pollack sent a statement to the Cornell community consisting of only 85 terse words. On Oct. 29, President Pollack also sent out a statement to the Cornell community after the murder of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue. The 345-word message back then, however, was much more elaborate and reassuring.