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.

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 LinkedIn has largely replaced and superseded the Office’s role in facilitating professional networking.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.

TRUSTEE VIEWPOINT | Calling Cornell In

This weekend marked my third Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference. While many elements of the weekend were the same — a seeming takeover of a hotel in a major city and at least 23 renditions of the alma mater — this weekend gave me newfound hope about how we as a community can exercise compassion and move towards the Cornell we hope to be. In the case you haven’t read the aptly- titled Sun article, Cornell gave an alumnus an award and while accepting it, he called Satchel Paige a “Negro,” prompting swift backlash. As I sat in the ballroom, I felt similar reactions to my peers: Looking around to find eyes and share a moment with someone else to make sure I was hearing correctly, scrolling through texts from other students in the room, including one that said “I can check off experiencing a racial incident on my 161 things to do,” and understanding the impact that his words were having on the group. But the focus of this column is not on the incident itself but the way in which we reacted as a community.