Oh no! Your cool, sleek, highly addictive flash drive of fun has gotten a generation hooked on nicotine and one step closer to death. And now everyone, including Walmart, the President, New York State and China, is sick of your shit. Who would have thought? Certainly not you, who launched the Juul with a “patently youth-oriented” campaign with young models and influencers in a social media frenzy.
September: Cornell’s campus is warm and breezy with remnants of summer left over, and our local fauna scurry across the quads to pick up fallen crumbs of Zeus’ mac’n’cheese. The returning students can breathe in, and almost absorb, the giddiness around campus that radiates from our puppy-eyed freshmen. They’re still blazing with the recent-grad, on-to-the-next-stage-of-my-life buzz that comes from spending the first couple of weeks on a college campus. Class of 2023, it’s true, college is a blast. You’ve got some wonderful times ahead of you, but if you think Ithaca will always be this fairytale-esque, you’re shit out of luck.
The first few weeks of the school year is full of new opportunities: classes to take, clubs to join and friends to make. With over 1,000 student groups available and even more courses offered, the options seem endless. Students often find their schedules tightly packed as they try to fit as many classes, work opportunities and extracurriculars into their day. As the semester goes on, students can find themselves burning out as they try to stay on top of all of their responsibilities. It’s therefore not surprising that, in recent years, more and more orientation events encourage students to practice self-care to try and avoid burning out.
Cornell will lose a giant this week. In only a few days, Steve Squyres ’78, Ph.D. ’81, James A. Weeks Professor of Physical Sciences, will depart from the helm of the astronomy department to assume the role of chief scientist at Blue Origin, a space exploration company. Having led NASA’s Mars exploration efforts, Squyres continued to teach at Cornell for over 40 years. His classes garnered acclaim among students, with Arts & Sciences Dean Ray Jayawardhana said, “He brought Mars to campus and gave us all a chance to see another world close-up. His infectious enthusiasm for exploration will continue to stimulate planetary scientists at Cornell for years to come.” Squyres’ years of service to the University and his dedication to the dual pursuits of discovery and its emotional conveyance have made Cornell history.
Writing on his time as a professor at Cornell University in the 1960s, Allan Bloom noted that students at this university had discerned that “freedom of thought” simply wasn’t “a good and useful thing, that they suspected that all this was ideology protecting the injustices of our ‘system.’” An invitation: Eavesdrop on any political conversation in the Temple of Zeus to see just how universal that mentality has become today. In his groundbreaking and hugely influential 1987 work The Closing of the American Mind, Bloom attempts to dissect and identify precisely what he saw as pervasive problems in American academia. Although often appreciated as a historical work, we now live in its wake: The students Bloom wrote about have since entered academia themselves, educating an entire generation under that same ethos. Their students have then in turn educated their children — our classmates — under a twice-removed skepticism that lurches ever closer toward total rejection of the rigor and “freedom of thought” that inspired Bloom’s academic cohort in the 20th century. To its credit, Cornell University still maintains some modicum of commitment to these ideals.
Oh boy, it’s that time of year! The familiar cacophony of sniffles and coughs echoes throughout each lecture hall, derailing my focus as I attempt to complete my 427th level of Candy Crush. Most of my floormates, who can typically be found occupying the lounge at 1 a.m. with CTB and chemistry textbooks, are now cooped up in their rooms, waiting for their illnesses to subside. Cornell University — filled to the brim with bustling, sleep-deprived students — has warped into a Petri dish of sickness and disease. But that’s not even the worst of it.
A noncontagious epidemic of sore throats and 18,610 posters and quarter cards en route to choking a landfill somewhere: These, alongside mailing lists misleadingly bloated with marginal interest, are what remain of the clamor of energy Cornellians heaved this past Sunday afternoon. Upperclassmen might note the dull familiarity of recycled tri-folds displaying faces long since graduated, barely pausing as they leave their shift for More Important Things. Those browsing might find themselves frustrated by the maze they glaze by in search of specific clubs. But though I question some of her excesses, I’m starting to recognize something amazing yet understated about the way Clubfest brings the breadth of our campus to the cavernous body of Barton Hall. Anyone else faced with the impossibility of winning interest for an esoteric club might share my initial jadedness.
Shelves bereft of food, hospitals short of medicine. Police brutality and state-sanctioned violence. Assassinations of United Socialist Party officials, government buildings set ablaze. Much of the blame for the inflation and recent economic mismanagement in Venezuela lies with President Nicolás Maduro and the ruling PSUV. But the United States’ brutal sanctions campaign and coup attempts have dramatically magnified Venezuela’s misery.
As I casually scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed last month, a particular ad caught my eye. It seemed like one of those SAT test prep ads with a 20-something year-old Asian female holding books and gazing at the camera with a look of promise. It wasn’t until I read the name of the agency and the cheerful caption, “Make up to $10,000 and help out a family!”, that I realized it was an egg donation advertisement. I quickly scrolled back down my newsfeed, brushing off the thought that this had anything to do with me. But then again, a similar ad appeared on my Instagram feed just a couple days ago, once again encouraging me to monetize my eggs.
The most impactful event that has happened in my lifetime is one I don’t even remember. On Sept. 11, 2001, I was nearly one year old. Any adult can tell you where they were and who they were with when the largest terrorist attack on American soil occurred. Sept.
On Friday, September 13, actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison for paying $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT altered as part of a wide-ranging college admissions scandal. Across Twitter and on shows such as The View, many reacted with indignation at a sentence they viewed to be too lenient, especially when contrasted to two black women — Kelley Williams-Bolar and Tonya McDowell — who also gamed the education system, but were sentenced to 10 days and five years in jail, respectively, for sending their children to school districts they didn’t reside in. In fact, both the prosecutor and judge in Felicity Huffman’s case argued that not sentencing Huffman to any jail time would be an injustice to Williams-Bolar. Although the prosecutor’s and judge’s diagnosis of potential injustice is correct, their assessment of the cause and the solution is not. Huffman walking free wouldn’t have been an injustice to Williams-Bolar and McDowell, nor is the injustice done to the two women corrected by sentencing Huffman to a two-week stint.