Thinking “I’m a complicated human being” has preceded all my worst looks this semester. Maybe I should attempt to be somewhat predictable. I should make it a New Year’s resolution. I’ll let you know how that goes. Jokes, but I couldn’t always laugh.
Roy Moore is disgusting –– there is no question about it. Despite what some on the far right might claim, the fact of the matter is that he pursued underage girls and used his position of power to take advantage of them. What is even more disgusting, however, is how much support Moore has retained. A recent poll showed that 42 percent of Alabamians still support Moore in his senate race; a fact that is revolting. How in God’s name can 42 percent of the people of Alabama still support a man that is quite clearly a pedophile?
I feel like the semester has keeled over and fallen into the abyss. Recently my Chinese history professor pitched a 20-25 page essay as a final project. It had taken a full semester for me to realize why this class was 4 credits. We had spent the majority of it pleasantly reading quaint Chinese scholars ruminate about the difficulty in Chinese bureaucracy while holding far-ranging discussions in class that always concluded with some kind of zany anecdote about our experiences in China. In the back of my head, I knew it was too good to true.
I’ve enjoyed many a movie at Cornell Cinema, and I believe that art is what makes life worth living. Naturally I tried to do what I could to protest the proposed defunding of the cinema by the Student Assembly. I signed the petition, went to the S.A. meetings, even spoke to a few assembly members that I happen to know personally. When I heard that the resolution had been tabled and that they’d decided to “negotiate on alternative funding possibilities,” I felt like I had played a very small role in accomplishing something good. On a meta-ethical level, however, I felt compelled to reflect on my decision to support this cause.
It’s Sunday morning at 11 a.m. and I roll over, hand slapping my phone to turn off an alarm that is blasting through the room and ringing in my ear, like God himself has placed a marching band on my nightstand and they are determined to play until my brain gives out. I need coffee and to figure out how to get the 190 lb man spread-eagle across the bed next to me home so I can actually finish the problem set I said I’d do on Thursday. A text sits unread at the top of my lock screen as I finally figure out how to shut the alarm off. “Did you have a good night and did you hook up with him?”
I start to write out a text explaining that I didn’t hook up with him as we had only made out and talked until 2 a.m., and then passed out unceremoniously on top of the blankets of my bed. Then I realized maybe that was a hookup.
To many, millennial “hook-up culture” is a disease infecting college campuses across the county. If that’s true, then Cornell has a fatal case. Over the years, I’ve heard many people try to explain the particularly strong grip casual sex has on the average Cornellian’s relationships. “We’re just so focused on school we can’t possibly put in the time necessary for a healthy relationship.” “Everyone was a nerd in high school, so now that people actually want to sleep with them, they have to do it.” “Sex is the strongest nonprescription stress-reliever.” The root of the culture is likely a combination of the three, as Cornell students are some of the most driven, thirsty and stressed-out people in the U.S.
No matter the causes of this trend, what’s really important is how it affects the typical social resident on the hill. Do we benefit from this system of apathetic hook-ups?
In the turmoil following Donald Trump’s inauguration and his subsequent Muslim ban, I turned to my grandfather’s story for solace and for guidance. Grandpa Ben had survived Soviet Russia, two years in a German refugee camp, the Great Depression and the Korean War, and built a prosperous life for himself and his family here in New York. He had made it to America, and then he had made it in America. During that dark January, when uncertainty hung heavy over all of us, when nobody was sure just how things would turn out, I looked to my grandpa. I looked at his life, and I knew that everything would be okay, so long as we did the right thing.
My favorite part about 10th grade math was the sticker I would get when Ms. Ho would walk around the room and check homework. My favorite ones were the smiley scented stickers (specifically watermelon) that she would place on my homework with a smile. The gesture was small, but it felt like a commendation, a validation of my work, and it made me feel recognized. This semester has been challenging and trying. From a national political climate that attacks our identities, to incidents on campus that have lessened the sense of belonging that many Cornellians feel, this has not been an easy semester.
Recently, I’ve been grappling with my group identity. My courses this semester have placed an emphasis on collaborative group projects, and as such, I’ve been viewing myself through the lens of my teammates, as a part of a whole, rather than as a completely individual entity. In academic settings, the concept of group work is interesting in that it anchors a set of strangers, without much consistency in background or passion, to a common goal – likely a desirable grade. Usually, then, after teams are selected, the professor gradually decreases the level of imposed structure, and the madness begins. Four of my six classes have currently assigned ongoing group projects: one of my teams is designing a website, one of them is building an application, one of them is filming a video and the last is dedicated to studying the role of technology in group work.
Two weeks ago, my friend who attends Princeton visited Cornell to see me and another friend. It was during the middle of a busy week of prelims and quizzes, so I didn’t expect to be able to show her much. I mean what is there really to show around campus and in Ithaca other than natural scenery, the A.D. White Library and perhaps the Commons? What’s worse, the weather was forecasted to rain all week as per usual, and we were supposed to get our first semi-winter weather at around 40 degrees. As rain poured down heavier than I had seen in weeks, I thought to myself, “Why oh why did I invite her all the way here to take a two-hour train ride and a five-hour bus ride, only to see pretty much nothing in bad weather?” Even my friends were surprised at the fact that someone would come all the way to Cornell just to see their friend.