Something crazy happened this past summer. Thousands and thousands of Cornellians — one-quarter of all undergraduates — got up and left Ithaca, likely for good. And yet, last Friday, thousands and thousands of new students rushed to fill those vacant spots, ensuring that, at least for one more year, Cornell will remain at full force. Here at The Sun, we too said goodbye to a sterling senior class, of editors, writers, photographers, designers, business associates and more. But unlike our friends at the admissions office, however, we don’t have the benefit of being on the Common App.
Last Saturday, the staff of The Cornell Daily Sun met to elect its 136th Editorial Board. As it was with the thousands of editors whose names graced this page before us, our mission is to provide the most comprehensive coverage, detailed analysis, and thoughtful commentary on the events and issues that matter most to Cornell and her community. It is an honor to play a small role in continuing this tradition of journalistic excellence, and I am elated to do so with the amazing group that is the 136th board. In 1981, at the dawn of The Sun’s second century, Editor in Chief Steven Billmyer ’83 wrote that the yearly changing of the boards was “The Sun’s most powerful asset allowing the editors a flexibility — one commercial papers cannot match — to produce a paper that better reflects this dynamic community.”
As The Sun continues to confront the challenges of 21st century journalism, Billmyer’s words ring more true than ever. Each successive generation of editors reinvigorates The Sun, ensuring that we always remain intimately connected to our audience and our environment.
What a year. We saw milestones like the much-anticipated opening of Cornell Tech, the ascension of our men’s hockey team to No. 1 in the nation, and the inauguration of Cornell’s 14th president. We witnessed an assault in Collegetown, the dismissal of Cornell’s oldest a cappella group for hazing, and the sudden resignation of the dean of the business college. These events, good and bad, make up the Cornell narrative, and it is our duty to make sure you, our readers, stay informed.
As Cornell students debate and vote on the campus-wide referendum to create a tobacco-free campus, they may want to review recent legislation from the Tompkins County Legislature. On May 2, 2017, the Tompkins County Legislature adopted a local law raising the legal age to 21 for tobacco sale and purchase. The County Legislature held hearings on the proposed local law and collected information about the impact of the proposed law. A study which appeared in the 2015 Institute of Medicine included a projection that if the minimum age was raised to 21, then the tobacco use initiation rate would decrease by a little over 15% for people ages 18 to 20. The study also projects that 30 years in the future that by raising the age “would result in approximately 223,000 fewer premature deaths, and 4.2 million fewer years of life lost among those born in the first 20 years of this century.”
Cornell is no stranger to big changes. Heading into the fall semester, Cornellians eagerly anticipate President Martha Pollack’s inauguration, the opening of Cornell Tech in New York City, a proliferation of Uber and Lyft rides, and many more exciting developments. This is only the beginning of a gradual but significant growth of the University and its impact around the world. Yet there is still much to improve about the world around us, as demonstrated by unhappy events that have transpired in our country this year. The violence and racial antagonism at Charlottesville.
The Sun elected its 135th editorial board Saturday morning. As members of the incoming board, we are excited to continue the legacy of our outgoing editors, expanding The Sun’s presence within the greater Ithaca community and shaping a generation of students who take a novel approach to exploring our culture and history. Last year, we downsized our print operation, reducing the number of weekly issues from five to three. The decision was met with skepticism: would the reduction diminish the quality of our content? Needless to say, the past year has proved otherwise.
Journalism today is an important public service. In the past year especially, we have seen the traditional media fail in disappointing ways to cover many of the relevant issues and to hold various people and institutions accountable. These failures constrain the agency and imagination of our communities to build a just and democratic future. The responsibility that reporters and editors are tasked with — the responsibility to keep the public informed — is gruesomely demanding but nevertheless essential. The Cornell Daily Sun is exempt neither from the challenges that journalism faces nor newspapers’ foremost obligation to serve the community.
With the start of the new academic year, Cornell faces big changes. The College of Business begins its first semester, the search for the next Cornell president goes on and apartment buildings continue to rise on the Collegetown horizon. The Cornell Daily Sun is here with comprehensive reporting on these and other important campus issues. We take our task of student journalism seriously at The Sun. Our foremost goal is to serve the public by publishing quality, in-depth coverage.
We’ve reached a pivotal moment in history of The Cornell Daily Sun. More than just being a daily, The Sun is becoming a 24/7 publication — your go-to source for Cornell news and opinion at any time of day, in print and online.
Moving forward, The Sun refuses to continue reporting on this group until its members’ identities are verified. We feel that we cannot continue dignifying this group’s requests for anonymity as its members become more involved on-campus.