Dr. Avery August , Cornell’s Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and leader of the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity, shared his optimism with The Sun that the past six months offered an opportunity for higher education to change for the better.
Despite the overwhelming awareness that this could all be over in a matter of days and despite the best efforts of students online to publicly shame those who break the rules, Cornell was moved to threat level yellow after a mere two days of classes — not by a group of students who contracted the disease in spite of Cornell’s ample countermeasures, but by a group of students who willfully ignored them. I am sure these people understood the risk to themselves and, given the well-expressed fears by their fellow students online, I’m sure they understood the risk to the student body as well. And, while I would like to believe the event that caused this cluster was an isolated incident, a rare deviation from the straightforward and essential guidelines we’ve all agreed to follow, frankly, you’d have to be living under a rock to believe that. We can all hear the music. So, if the judgment of your peers, the requests of your university and the very real danger to the health of you and your friends are insufficient motivators to keep you out of a party this semester, then please consider the people who rely on Cornell for employment. Because the fact of the matter is, a few more “get-togethers” gone wrong, and hundreds, if not thousands, of people here are unemployed overnight. Yes, unemployed. Without a job, without a stream of income, a.k.a. something necessary to feed, clothe and house oneself when one’s parents do not do so.
Like every other student, Melissa Mahannah ’18 was admitted to Cornell after writing an essay and requesting letters of recommendation. But unlike most undergraduate students, she was also a full-time employee at Cornell when she applied.
Housing, community and well-being were among the key areas that Leading Cornell, a leadership program for Cornell employees, identified as the most pressing areas of concern for those employed by the University at Wednesday’s Employee Assembly.
The College of Arts and Sciences will expand its first year advising program to include all newly-enrolled students, it announced on March 29. The program — in which new students meet weekly in small weeks with faculty members to ease the transition into college life — was implemented as a pilot initiative two years ago.
One Saturday last spring, my friend and I found an open piano room in the basement of Becker House on West Campus to break away from reality for a moment. I talked, laughed, but also enjoyed the sounds of the piano I could produce. Inspired by my playing, my friend encouraged me to perform in Becker House’s talent show later that month, which he was hosting. Unfortunately, as we later discovered, because I was not a resident of Becker House, I was unable to participate in the talent show since it was held during a House Dinner. House Dinners, held every Wednesday night in each West Campus dining hall, are a distinct occasion in which the House Chef prepares a special menu, entertainment is provided by Cornell’s student organizations and faculty and students come together.
Cornell prides itself in being one of the best research universities in the world. The depth and breadth of research endeavors are true to Ezra Cornell’s founding mission of “any person … any study,” and its faculty are some of the most renowned scholars in their field. Yet, the emphasis placed on scholarly activities often come at the expense of student learning and experience. Around this time every semester, I am shocked at the number of Ivy League professors who put so little effort into their syllabi that they forget to change even the term of the course from Fall 2018 to Spring 2019. It is no secret that the setup of a research university enables faculty members to thrive so long as they are actively involved in their research interests and advisement of graduate students under their direct supervision.
Cornell’s faculty handbook asks professors to refrain from assigning work to students over the break. But unfortunately, if students think they can finally catch up on sleep or bond with family, they might be disappointed as that clause lacks enforcement power, according to Dean of Faculty Charles Van Loan.