WILK | Breakup With a Small Town

Coming to college made me conscious of the problem of having an introduction prone to misinterpretation. Every “where do you live” since my first introduction to my freshman year roommate has made me wonder if my graceless attempts to illustrate the distinct small town-ness of where I was raised give people an entirely wrong impression. I grew up in an oxymoron. Rural New York is a descriptor so pitted against itself that it almost cancels out, diffusing into a vast Middle of Nowhere that disappears off mental maps when you’re tasked with telling someone where you’re from and where that is. My jumbled words between ‘um’s’ and ‘have you heard of’s’ could never capture the character of my piece of upstate in an icebreaker-friendly time crunch, so what follows is a hunch that feels like an itch that strangers walk away thinking of charming shots of green and hay from Hallmark movies instead of the slightly less magical reality I knew.

GUEST ROOM | Want Cornell to Be the American College? Abolish Legacy Admissions

In his 1972 inauguration speech, former Cornell President Frank Rhodes noted that Cornell, blending the intellectual atmosphere of an Ivy League institution with the practicality of a public university, is a bit of a misfit. That is, it’s not quite intellectually absorbed to be considered among the likes of Harvard, Yale and Princeton, and not so accessible and pragmatic to be considered among public universities. Last Saturday, President Martha  Pollack embraced Cornell’s ambiguity, suggesting that those hunting the essentially American college will identify Cornell — and perhaps Harvard, Yale and Princeton. That would be true if Cornell’s commitment to the public good — exemplified by both its founding mission and land-grant status -— was not tarnished by an artifact of elitism: legacy admissions. To advocate so strongly our college’s public mission while consequently employing a practice that gives preference to those who were privileged to begin with is simply wrong.