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TAARIQ | After the CALC Affair, Going Steady With Our Alma Mater

About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference as a Class of 2021 Class Councils representative, alongside around 100 other current Cornell student leaders. Generations of alumni also came to the event to engage in networking and small group discussions with students. I was also present for Paul Blanchard’s ’52 acceptance speech for the William “Bill” Vanneman ’31 Outstanding Class Leader Award. When Blanchard referred to the Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige as a “Negro” and said “now they call them Blacks,” my jaw dropped, followed by stifled laughter. This was the same reaction I had to his earlier comment about surveying female students on the Arts Quad.

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GUEST ROOM | Being a Cornell Alumnus Is Harder Than Being a Student

“I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble is, once in a while I toss one that ain’t never been seen by this generation.”
—Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige (1906-1982)
As a lifelong active Cornell alumnus who attended the Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference, I have been following The Sun’s coverage and op-ed pieces about Paul Blanchard ’52, the alumnus who gave an acceptance speech that included a description of Satchel Paige as a Negro Baseball League pitcher. The Sun’s “Mind the Gap” editorial called for “preventative measures” to avoid a recurrence of an alumni event offending student guests. Sun columnists Laura DeMassa ’21 and Canaan Delgado ’21 called for “disrupting the structural manifestations of discrimination” within Cornell’s alumni organizations. Cornell Alumni Affairs will convene a task force “of students, alumni and staff in response to the incident to ‘develop productive new ways for Cornell’s different generations to work together with even more mutual respect and understanding,’” The Sun reported.

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EDITORIAL: Mind the Gap

Generations of Cornellians came together last weekend for current students and alumni alike to enjoy an opportunity to learn from each other. There’s nothing like an invite-only potential networking opportunity to bring generations of Big Red back together. But the weekend took a turn. When Paul Blanchard ’52 was accepting the William “Bill” Vanneman ’31 Outstanding Class Leader Award, he said something so unexpected, students in attendance thought they misheard him. While talking about Satchel Paige, a Hall of Fame pitcher, he referred to the former baseballer as a “Negro,” then qualifying his statement with, “Now they call them blacks.” Cornell’s Alumni Affairs handled this situation with grace, speed, efficiency and sensitivity that many of the conference-goers commented on and appreciated.

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DEMASSA & DELGADO | The Elephant in the Room: A Legacy of Discrimination

Earlier this month, we attended the Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference, where over 100 students and 500 alumni convened to undertake the prophetic task of setting a five year strategic plan for the Office of Alumni Affairs. The Office faces a number of growing challenges. LinkedIn has largely replaced and superseded the Office’s role in facilitating professional networking. Social media has become the dominant mode of information-sharing, obliging the Office to either adapt or get left in the dust. With data revealing a lack of donations from young alumni, as announced at the conference, the Office faces an existential threat.