America has a serial killer. Most recently, it has claimed the life of one of our own students at Cornell. 1994. A young man was brutally beaten with a paddle, body-slammed and kicked in the chest repeatedly over the duration of a week. The resulting injuries were broken ribs, a lacerated kidney, a lacerated liver, his chest, neck, back, and arms so badly bruised that the counter coroner advised the family not to look at the body and brain bleeding, from which he ultimately died.
Five months after my Cornell interview and three months after committing to my Big Red acceptance, I attended a local meet-and-greet for the incoming class. Hosted at an alum’s home and intended to be a mixer between incoming freshmen, current students and alumni, it was meant to be a laid-back social. But in the immediate aftermath of the crapshoot that are college applications, such socials are anything but laid back. Allow me to offer a snapshot of what I mean. After parking a block away from the event’s address, I walked down the street and arrived at the front door, only to run into a line of fellow Cornellians waiting to enter.
Cornellians crave order. Our campus teems with neurotic overachievers who meticulously plan their days, their semesters and their careers. But Cornell, an inherently disorderly institution, often leaves these order-seekers wanting. Cornell’s disorganization might be most evident in its campus landscape; to the chagrin of many, the buildings that form the East Hill skyline are a seemingly incoherent mishmash of architectural styles. But we should value Cornell’s architectural hodgepodge, as it reflects our identity as a “non-pretentious college,” (as historian Morris Bishop ’13, Ph.D. ’26 put it), and embodies the once-radical principles that have guided the university for more than 150 years.
In September, your photo came up on my screen while I was scrolling through Tinder. I accidentally swiped left. My stomach dropped. I hurried to the bathroom to avoid waking my roommate, flicked on the light and proceeded to spend the next half hour trying and failing to download Tinder Plus so I could undo my erroneous finger movement. I flooded my best friend’s phone with texts, frantically trying to figure out which way you would’ve swiped on me, and how to show you in a totally-deniable-but-still-flirty-and-cute way that I really, really meant to swipe right.
There’s no time to be an ingenue when you’re an upperclassman. I’ve slowly come to the understanding that by the end of my first two years of college, I should’ve been out on weekends, flirting with cute guys and making my debut into the realm of dating and hookup apps. Now I’ve reached the final stages of undergrad only to realize that I damned myself for the first two years of college that I spent on weekend movie nights with my friends, drinking from the comfort of our home, dancing to our own music in our own rooms.
Because now, after meeting with a guy once or twice, there’s an underlying assumption that I’m supposed to be putting out. The courtship ritual shifts within a week from friendly texts and witty banter into late-night Snapchats that I don’t really want to open. After hanging out with a guy for a few hours one time in public, suddenly I’m at fault for not wanting to come over at 12 a.m. Everyone’s supposed to be on board with casual sex.