Not even my centennial replay of “thank u, next” had the power to distract me from what was transpiring outside my headphones. The conversation — or interrogation, judging by its tone — went something like this:
“You got the job! So, Wren must have pulled for you.”
“Uh, yeah, I mean, I saw her briefly.”
“Right. That’s crazy. How did you even—that’s crazy.
A little over two years since coming to Cornell, I have grown accustomed to living in the United States and find myself having adopted several minute but quintessentially American traits. I now use slang or shorthand like “legit” or “lmk” without thinking about it, engage in small talk with waiters and walk around in the rain without an umbrella. These were all strikingly different aspects of American language and culture despite my 10+ years of being educated in international schools that follow the American curriculum. Although I wouldn’t consider myself American, I have adjusted to living in the U.S. and do my part living here as a non-citizen. Academically and culturally, I provide an alternate perspective for my peers who have never travelled outside of the country.
In his 1972 inauguration speech, former Cornell President Frank Rhodes noted that Cornell, blending the intellectual atmosphere of an Ivy League institution with the practicality of a public university, is a bit of a misfit. That is, it’s not quite intellectually absorbed to be considered among the likes of Harvard, Yale and Princeton, and not so accessible and pragmatic to be considered among public universities. Last Saturday, President Martha Pollack embraced Cornell’s ambiguity, suggesting that those hunting the essentially American college will identify Cornell — and perhaps Harvard, Yale and Princeton. That would be true if Cornell’s commitment to the public good — exemplified by both its founding mission and land-grant status -— was not tarnished by an artifact of elitism: legacy admissions. To advocate so strongly our college’s public mission while consequently employing a practice that gives preference to those who were privileged to begin with is simply wrong.
On Thursday, I read the article in the Daily Sun’s Guest Room section entitled “Cornellians Must Combat Anti-Semitism,” in which the author, Josh Eibelman ’20, underlined the need to fight anti-Semitism on campus. Though Eibelman is absolutely correct in that anti-Semitism remains an enormous problem both on campus and in America as a whole, he spends most of his piece not denouncing actual anti-Semitism, but instead attacking Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine. As an Ashkenazi Jew and a committed member of Cornell SJP, I thought it necessary to respond to Eibelman’s accusations from a Jewish, anti-Zionist perspective. Eibelman claims that SJP’s activity qualifies as antisemitic because it works to “delegitimize Israel — the only Jewish state in the world — as a ‘settler colonial’ and ‘apartheid’ state.” According to Eibelman, this stance is incontrovertibly antisemitic since “the State Department classifies ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor’” as a form of anti-Semitism. I would hope that Eibelman realizes that the State Department of the United States of America, which has supported ethnic cleansing around the world and is by far the greatest backer of the State of Israel abroad, is not the final arbiter on what is and isn’t anti-Semitism.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, an anti-Semite committed the worst anti-Semitic act in America’s history. We have an obligation to mourn the eleven Jews slaughtered in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue. We also have a collective responsibility to act against anti-Semitism. I propose starting right here, on our campus.
Perhaps no motif is more ingrained in our psyche than that of the mentor or father figure offering up powerful life lessons in low-voiced, soothing maxims. As the undisputed “next generation,” we’ve come to expect these teaching moments in not just our films or television shows, but also in most of our interactions with people over 40. It’s hard to go a week without the typical “As you move into the real world, remember…” or “There’s an old saying in Tennessee…”
For me, many of these conversations center around the idea that we have the opportunity to undo or at least avoid the mistakes of our parents — to get the best out of the world we’re inheriting as we shape it into something more fair and welcoming for all. There’s one aspect of this “real world” before us, however, that many in the baby boomer generation still don’t recognize as a problem for their successors to address. The area, in my view, is a source of untold anguish and ruin – a dark spot we must bleach before it further stains American society. To me, there’s no question: we must let die the mass abuse of those stupid cliché business terms.
If you’re not familiar, some examples of these banal utterances include saying “improvement opportunities” instead of “problems,” or, yes, even calling managers “people leaders” and the H.R. department “people operations” (et tu Google).
Sometimes I’m scared to write certain pieces, because if I do, I’ll fall into some downward spiral after shifting through my memories, and this article isn’t supposed to be my attempt to pull myself from some depth, but one that hopes to understand? Find hope? I don’t really know yet. I’ve been thinking about pain a lot. About how every individual carries their own burden and as much as we try to relieve the pain of others, there’s not always a way to.
Correction appended. Today’s story on the high demand for large apartments in Collegetown underscores the need for substantial change in how Cornell does housing. It is not a sign of health that students feel compelled to sign leases well over a year before moving in — nor is it acceptable that many of those houses often exist in various states of perpetual disrepair. Cornell can and should do more to foster a better system of housing for upperclassmen, particularly in Collegetown. Yes, Cornell has begun to implement its Master Housing Plan, including the much-trumpeted North Campus expansion, but we are skeptical that those efforts will ease the pressure on Collegetown rentals.
On October 2, ILR Dean Kevin Hallock shocked the ILR community by sending out a mass e-mail announcing that he had sought and received an appointment as the Dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, an apparent promotion over his position at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. As Dean Hallock goes on to what he and Cornell’s senior administration believe to be bigger and better things, he leaves behind an ILR school at an important crossroads. Will the ILR school be reduced to a niche business school and a stepping stone for promising business leaders or will it fulfill its potential to be the world’s leading institution for the study of work, workers and employment? The ILR school was founded in 1945 during an era of massive change in the American labor market. Enabled by New Deal legislation and fueled by a wave of post-depression left-wing militancy workers across the United States were joining unions by the millions and organizing bold and confrontational strikes to demand a bigger share of the economic fruits of their labor.
This week, domestic Cornell students had the opportunity to participate in the Midterm Elections. The interest surrounding this year’s election cycle on campus was palpable. In the past few months, I’ve seen students organize voter registration drive after voter registration drive. Others spent time collating resources so that every eligible student would be able to easily find and travel to their polling place. My social media feed the day of was filled not only with students exercising their right to vote but also with post after post encouraging others to exercise their right as well.