It has been exactly one year since I received my official Cornell guaranteed transfer acceptance. I still remember it like it happened yesterday. It was a perfectly sunny day, and my close friend and I sat on my bed in my cramped dorm room at Case Western Reserve University eating to-go sushi rolls while watching The Office on my carefully balanced laptop. What had always seemed so distant had suddenly become shockingly close. Before I knew it, I was no longer strolling down Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.
After two years, two months and three days (but who’s counting), my time as the Student-Elected Trustee has begun to come to a close. Serving as the Student-Elected Trustee has been one of the greatest honors in my lifetime. In an act of nostalgia and personal curiosity, I spent this past week looking through my past viewpoints and notes to pull out my most memorable lessons from the Hill and the Board of Trustees. While I still am unable to describe industrial and labor relations to my grandma in Chinese, I’m happy to report that my time at Cornell has been filled with learning moments that I hope others reading this can carry forward. I learned that organizational traditions are not all pure.
Well, we made it. We have at long last reached the end of the road. It was a tough journey, certainly not one for the faint of heart, but despite all the pain, I believe it was worth it. This right here is my last column. As I sit write, I have to admit I’m glad I decided to go to Olin to do this because I can already feel the emotions that would no doubt have poured out in the form of tears if I wasn’t in a public place.
Just how global is the focus of Cornell’s globalist activist community? At first glance, it is globalist without reservation: From climate crusaders demanding the University divest from fossil fuels to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel, campus progressive activists this semester repeatedly have called for Cornell to make dramatic changes to further their political vision. Cornellians certainly have the right to petition the University, and it is understandable why they would begin their activism here. President Martha Pollack, for her part, properly noted in her response to the BDS movement that “the principal purpose of our endowment is to provide income for advancing our mission-related objectives.” The endowment, she said, “must not be viewed as a means of exercising political or social power.” That is sensible logic. Of course, this will not deter activists from their quest to politicize the University endowment.
I am one of the lucky ones, right? Being able to come to an Ivy League university despite coming from a low-income community and a single-parent first-generation household. I am one of the lucky ones. Being able to completely forget the reality of home in my little ivory tower. I am lucky to have an unlimited meal plan, even though it was forced and the food is poorly seasoned.
My senior year of college has been a whole lot of “lasts” that happened without me even realizing them. I slammed down my pencil and released a big sigh as I submitted my last prelim without noting it was my last. My last Ithaca snow — dreadfully late into spring — fell onto my unsuspecting head without any consideration for how this would never happen again. When would be my last time crying in office hours? My last all-nighter, making ramen and a soft-boiled egg at 3:00 a.m.?
Moving from country to country while growing up, I learned to quickly adapt to new environments. I grasped how to approach people from different cultures and backgrounds and especially how to find common ground. Along the way, I strived to make myself polite and agreeable so that I would be able to fit in. Yet, this need to adjust and conform compromised my sense of self. I was molding who I was to correspond with others’ expectations of who I am meant to be rather than letting myself just be me.
It goes without saying that mental health is a major conversation on campus. Currently, some of the mental health services offered at Cornell include Let’s Talk and CAPS, which are offered at Cornell Health, and EARS, a student-run organization. While all are extremely important services, all are arguably “downstream” mental health services. Since they are “downstream,” they can only be utilized by individuals who are currently having to address their mental health issues. There are very few specific services in place that attempt to dispel systems that can lead to mental health issues.
ByShivani Parikh, Aashka Piprottar, Hansen Tai, Jeannie Yamazaki, Jong Han & Kumar Nandanampati |
The question of whether Asian Americans qualify as people of color has become increasingly pertinent, especially after The Sun published an article about admissions statistics for the class of 2023, stating, “Nearly 55 percent of this year’s admitted students are ‘students of color’ — underrepresented minorities or Asian Americans — a new record for Cornell.”
So then, are Asian Americans people of color? It’s complicated. Takao Ozawa v. United States (1922) was a case in which the United States Supreme Court found Japanese-American Takao Ozawa ineligible for naturalization because the courts deemed him to not be white. United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) was a case in which the Supreme Court unanimously decided that Bhagat Singh Thind, an Indian Sikh man who identified as a “high caste aryan, of full Indian blood,” was racially ineligible for naturalized citizenship in the U.S. Associate Justice George Sutherland said that authorities on the subject of race were in disagreement over which people were included in the scientific definition of the Caucasian race, so Sutherland instead chose to rely on the common understanding of race rather than the scientific understanding of race. Concurrently and subsequently were the advents of calls to action for the government to address the “Yellow Peril,” Japanese internment during World War II, and fear of the “Hindoo Invasion.”
Asian Americans in the 1960s joined the fight for ethnic studies departments and for courses in higher education to teach them about themselves through a lens that was not anthropological or militaristic, but through focusing on the history of people of different minority ethnicity in the U.S. The combined determination of the Latin American Student Organization, the Black Student Union, the Intercollegiate Chinese for Social Action, the Mexican American Student Confederation, the Philippine American Collegiate Endeavor, La Raza, the Native American Students Union and later the Asian American Political Alliance galvanized California and the rest of the nation with the first student strike.
Another Earth Day has come and gone. The lengthy Instagram stories of natural wonders have timed out and with their expiration has also gone most of the Earth-friendly sentiment they delivered for a day. Some of my friends in the Ecology House, where I live, complain about people who give the Earth shoutouts over social media on Earth Day but only continue with the same wasteful lifestyles the next. While I have noticed this phenomenon with certain people, it’s not the biggest problem I see with Earth Day. The holiday celebrates our planet and advocates better treatment of it, but it also ignores our treatment of Earth’s cherished non-human constituents.