Cornell’s Interfraternity Council canceled nearly all regulated fraternity events for the rest of the fall semester Friday night, citing safety concerns. The ban — which will run until Jan. 1, 2020 — cited recent events as a catalyst which had made “inherent safety hazards” apparent within the existing Greek life social system.
Starting October 15, Julia Feliz would not be welcome at Cornell’s Alliance for Science program, its director said. The decision — which Feliz shared in a widely-circulated post — was followed by waves of student support in a Student Assembly resolution in solidarity with Feliz and a planned rally, as well as a University statement disputing many of Feliz’s characterizations.
Ezra Cornell, the wealthy telegraph magnate who would co-found our uniquely egalitarian university in the aftermath of the Civil War, was convinced that 19th-century society was bound to undergo a dramatic transformation, a “revolution by which the downtrodden millions will be elevated to their equal and just rights, and each led to procure and enjoy … [the] happiness that all men and women are entitled to as the fruits of their labor.”
Cornell was determined to use his fortune to further this inevitable revolution, so Cornell University, the crown jewel of his philanthropic efforts, would be governed by bold populist principles. Unlike the other great universities of the East, which were defined by their colonial origins and aristocratic traditions, Cornell University would provide an elite education to students who were anything but elite: “downtrodden” young men and women of all faiths who would not otherwise set foot in an ivory tower. Though Cornell’s ethos of service to the common man and woman had great influence on the other educational reformers of his era, including Leland and Jane Stanford (whose namesake university was once referred to as the “Cornell of the West”), America’s prominent private institutions of higher learning have lost the trust of many of the ordinary Americans they exist — or should exist — to serve. With the prominence of exorbitant and ever-rising tuition rates, recent admissions fraud scandals and campus struggles with racism and bigotry, it’s hard to escape the sense that schools like Cornell are set up to cater to ruling elites at the expense of those who lack financial and social capital. This crisis of trust is especially dangerous in an era when faith in American institutions is rapidly eroding, truth is considered malleable and “alternative facts” reign.
On Monday, Cornell welcomed the former president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aimé ’83, to speak about key leadership skills applicable on campus and in the workplace. The event was held in the David L. Call Alumni Auditorium in Kennedy Hall and attracted a full crowd of students and faculty.
After weeks of exams, papers and responsibilities, fall break offers a welcome respite for students to destress and relax. Many Cornell students decide to go home or get away from campus, though some students simply live too far away or choose not to step off campus for a quick vacation.