With Rent Bill on Hold, Ithaca Tenants Union Moves Forward with New Initiatives

In June, Ithaca’s Common Council passed a resolution that promised to do what no other city in the nation had before: Request authorization to cancel three months’ rent for its citizens. The measure, which was approved on a 6-4 vote with the support of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09, asked the city government to seek approval from the New York State Department of Health to grant the mayor power to forgive three months of rental payments. As unemployment skyrocketed amid one of the sharpest economic downturns in American history, the Cornell undergraduate-led Ithaca Tenants’ Union first began its campaign to fight for rent forgiveness over March, April and May. After weeks of sustained advocacy — most notably through “phone zaps” to local politicians — the union was able to count on the support of the mayor and several council members. But despite its much-publicized rollout, Albany hasn’t approved the resolution, and it is unclear how seriously it was ever considered.

WILK | The Pitfalls of Political Hobbyism at Cornell

Picture this — a panoramic shot of a quad glimmering under the early fall-semester sun. You could be at any college campus in America or, more likely, suspended in a place that doesn’t actually exist except as an amalgamation of the essence of college campuses nationwide. You see people: walking, frisbeeing, speaking different languages, laughing, lounging and lugging kegs. You continue to snake through the bubbling crowd and you start to get bombarded. You hear calls from table-ers, flyers are pushed into your abdomen, you are entangled in a flock of demonstrators; you’ve been caught in the ever-present and unignorable politics that has long been a token of collegiate life.