Allison Tracy grad was named a finalist for the prestigious Schmidt Science Fellowship, a program that partners with the Rhodes Trust — which also administers and awards the famed Rhodes Scholarship — on Friday.
In a stunning reversal of Cornell’s own internal investigation conducted just last year, a faculty committee has found Prof. Brian Wansink guilty of “academic misconduct.” The professor, who has had 13 papers retracted over the past two years (six of them yesterday), will resign at the end of this school year. While we are glad that Cornell has finally taking the appropriate steps to reprimand Wansink and insulate the University and its students from the growing fallout, the brief statement on matter issued by Provost Michael Kotlikoff is entirely insufficient given the gravity of the situation. There are several questions the University must answer if they are to regain the trust of Cornellians and the broader academic community. Firstly, what is the cause of the discrepancy between yesterday’s finding, and the finding of the April 2017 internal investigation that determined Wansink had not committed “scientific misconduct”? If this result is emblematic of a flaw in Cornell’s initial review process, the University owes it to its students and faculty to address and correct such flaws.
The Consensual Relationships Policy Committee has undertaken a long overdue revision of Cornell’s policies on romantic and sexual relations between faculty and students. These relations are fraught because of differences in power and experience, because they can involve serious conflicts of interest and because they can have disruptive effects on the functioning of and climate within our professional workplaces. However, there is another class of romantic and sexual relations that seems similarly fraught — in kind if not in degree — that has received almost no discussion: those between graduate students within the same department or workplace. Graduate school provides a transition between young adulthood and full professional stature, and graduate students mature enormously over the course of their studies. Before graduating they may participate in many of the professional functions of faculty, including undergraduate teaching, training and supervising new graduate and undergraduate students, evaluating students and writing recommendation letters, managing collaborations, and writing and reviewing manuscripts and proposals.