LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Provost Kotlikoff and VP Opperman on ‘Being a Graduate Student in a Harvey Weinstein World at Cornell University’

To the Editor:

We are writing in regard to the recent guest column, “Being a Graduate Student in a Harvey Weinstein World at Cornell University,” to emphasize that sexual harassment or coercion of any kind has no place at Cornell. The author is absolutely correct that graduate students and, indeed, all members of the Cornell community should be protected from sexual coercion and that academic success should never be linked to such pressures. For that reason, it is important to be aware that Cornell Policy 6.4 clearly prohibits such misconduct. That policy defines “Sexual Coercion” as follows:

“To obtain compliance with sexual acts by using physically or emotionally manipulative actions or statements or expressly or implicitly threatening the person or another person with negative actions. Examples of sexual coercion include statements such as “I will ruin your reputation,” or “I will tell everyone,” or “your career (or education) at Cornell will be over.”

The policy also defines Sexual Harassment as follows:

A form of protected-status harassment that constitutes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other oral, written, visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that unreasonably interferes with the individual’s work or academic performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment under any of the following conditions:

Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct either explicitly or implicitly is (1) made a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic status, or (2) used as a basis for an employment or academic decision affecting that person; or
The conduct is sufficiently (1) persistent, severe or pervasive, and (2) has the purpose or effect of altering the conditions of an individual’s employment or academic pursuits in a way that a reasonable person would find abusive, hostile, or offensive.

Letter to the Editor: On the essential labor of graduate employees

To the Editor:

In the March 3, 2017 Graduate School Announcements email’s “Ask a Dean” feature, there was a featured question asking what would happen if graduate employees decided to strike. In her response to this question, Dean of the Graduate School Barbara Knuth, wrote, “Very few undergraduate courses have a graduate assistant as an instructor of record, so it is unlikely that many, if any, classes would stop due to the absence (on strike) of graduate assistants, but such a situation has not occurred before at Cornell so it is hard to predict what the full set of consequences would be.” I write today as a graduate employee teaching a first-year writing seminar, an active participant in shared governance at Cornell and proud supporter and member of Cornell Graduate Students United to affirm the essential labor of graduate employees belittled and erased by Knuth’s response. Even if we follow the scope of Knuth’s response and only focus on teaching assistants, it must be recognized that the labor provided to Cornell University by graduate employees is absolutely essential to its daily functioning and ability to fulfill its educational mission. Full stop. No qualifiers.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Division and Solidarity in the Unionization Discussion

To the Editor:

The socio-political climate recently has been emotionally taxing, taking a toll on our graduate student body. Locally, this has been exacerbated by the vitriolic nature of discussions on the union, with accusations flying on both sides. Some have charged CGSU with harassing tactics. Others are painting neutrality or alternate views about the union as self-interest and apathy towards the welfare of their peers across fields. We are writing as the two graduate student representatives on the General Committee, the administrative, legislative and judicial board of the Graduate School.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | In Response to the Rawlings-Brickhouse Letters

To the editor:

“The administration may make one formal communication to Graduate Assistants regarding the University’s position on unionization. ‘Formal communication’ shall be defined as a written document setting forth the University’s official position that is signed by the President or another senior University Officer. i. The document shall be distributed via email to the Cornell campus (one time) and posted to a public CORNELL website(s). …”

This passage is from the “Union-University Conduct Rules and Recognition Election Agreement,” the document signed last May that details the current Union-University relationship.  Interim President Hunter Rawlings was far from violating the agreement when he emailed his and the administration’s opinion last Thursday and in fact was distributing it to the entire Cornell Campus as stipulated.

TRUSTEE VIEWPOINT | An Exciting Year for Cornell

It’s the beginning of a new school year, and there is much to be celebrated. From launching the College of Business to welcoming a whole slew of top-level administrators, Ithaca is teeming with new and exciting changes. This year, we welcome Cornellians in the class of 2020, and trust that they will continue to pioneer the innovative and progressive energy that infiltrates Cornell. Like the class of 2020, this year marks a welcoming change for me too. This year, I begin my journey as the graduate student-elected trustee.