The title of the article, “School Spirit Must Be Sacrificed for Public Safety” makes one major assumption about athletics at Cornell. Athletics do not equate to school spirit, in fact they represent much more than what spectators, fans and otherwise non-participatory parties see on the outside.
Speaking on behalf of fellow athletes, most of us have worked hard our entire lives for an opportunity to put our abilities to the test at the highest levels of performance. Our personal journeys in athletics should not be reduced to something that is enjoyed primarily as entertainment. With the cancellation of spring competition, the Ivy League has played with the heartstrings of
athletes across the country. We do not need to hear from people, mainly non-athletes and professors, constantly chiming in on the conversation about what athletes should think about having our seasons canceled.
As a Floridian who spent last semester at home due to Florida’s placement on a COVID-19 travel advisory, I feel compelled to respond to Matthew Samilow’s column, “Where do the Florida Morons Go For Their Apology?”
Part of Samilow’s defense of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-F.L.) asserts that he’s a victim of unfair (liberal) media. Media criticism and scrutiny of DeSantis is dismissed as “hysterical”, while Samilow ignores why DeSantis’s handling of the pandemic is so unpopular in Florida. During the pandemic, DeSantis has argued against science itself by listening to the anti-mask advice of the infamous conspiracy theorist Dr. Scott Atlas more than epidemiologists. He modeled poor leadership by appearing at public events like the Super Bowl without a mask. DeSantis’s crusade against science extended to basic arithmetic, when he argued in July that Florida’s positive case count had stabilized –– it hadn’t.
A recent column titled “Why I’m Choosing Not To Seek Professional Mental Health Care” worried me greatly. I respect the writer’s ability to make her own choices, but I am writing to disagree vehemently with the article’s argument that lack of personal responsibility is the cause of mental illness. In ambiguously referencing “mental health” without defining her usage of the term, the author failed to make the distinction between transient mental health struggles, such as being stressed at one point, and an ongoing chronic disease, such as generalized anxiety, depression or seasonal affective disorder. There is a difference here, and it’s not negligible. The article suggests that things like “a call, an emptied afternoon” are all that she has needed in the past to restore balance to her mental health — and it’s great that she is coming to that realization.
Last week created a strange moment of unity — a pizza party among several deeply divided groups on campus as we observed Mitch McBride’s ’17 hearing. This was the first opportunity recently for any number of conversations that have not been happening: we have observed Cornell’s campus fracturing along sharper lines this past year. We’d like to address how this has been particularly visible in, and amplified by, trolling and hate speech in the Cornell Daily Sun’s comments section. Although primarily driven by alt-right ideology, the ad hominem, vituperative and intellectually void rhetoric has not been limited to any one group within the Cornell Daily Sun commentariat. These comments are extreme enough to expose the contradiction within free speech: that speech of this sort can itself have a chilling effect on speech.
I read a Letter to the Editor on The Sun’s website last November. Written by Cornell alumna Megan Tubb ’13, the letter criticized the Cornell student body for its actions following the presidential election. In response to a “cry-in” that was held on Ho Plaza, she writes “The day after the election, you responded by literally sitting on the ground and crying. What is worse is that student funds were used to provide said students with hot chocolate and coloring supplies. This is not what adulthood looks like.”
The above quote touches on a narrative that’s popular these days.
The recent union drive at Cornell, like those at other campuses across the country, has given a voice to the issues that graduate students face. One of the most pressing issues on which grads have organized is sexual harassment. This issue hits close to home at Cornell, which has more active Title IX investigations than any other university in the nation. For graduate students, facts like this are especially worrisome. Per a 2015 study by the Association of American Universities, grad students were four times more likely to be sexually harassed by a professor than undergrads.
I write in response to the recent article detailing charges brought against Mitch McBride ’17 under the Campus Code of Conduct for sharing allegedly confidential materials from the Admissions and Financial Aid Working Group. These charges are both ill-advised and unwarranted. The function of a student representative to a university committee or task force is often to bring student viewpoints to the attention of university decision-makers regarding important policy and programmatic initiatives and to relay information to and from constituents. While students serve at the pleasure of the administration in an effort to make university decision-making more participatory, transparent and democratic, student representatives are not employed by the university, nor do they tacitly agree, by virtue of their participation, to act at the behest of the university’s administration rather than in the best interest of the constituents they have been elected or appointed to represent. To put a “gag order” on student representatives to not share information or solicit feedback about proposals that are under administrative review — under threat of disciplinary action pursuant to the Campus Code of Conduct — would seriously undermine the role and effectiveness of students serving in these capacities.
I represent the Fourth District on the Tompkins County Legislature, which covers a good part of the Commons, East Hill, Collegetown and the Cornell West Campus. I am writing to make Cornell students who may live in the District aware of a public hearing (Tuesday, April 18, 5:30 p.m. at the Tompkins County Legislature Chambers) on a Local Law known as “T21” to raise the age to purchase tobacco and tobacco products from 18 to 21. I do not smoke and see no upside to smoking. The marketing of tobacco intentionally focuses on teens, as that is the age where lifetime addiction is most likely to take hold. An important goal of T21 is to make it a bit harder to get that first cigarette.
Five months ago, I wrote a letter to the editor arguing that President Rawlings’s email to the community against graduate student unionization “sets a dangerous precedent for using the Office to meddle in the internal affairs of students.” With the Sun’s article “Cornell, Union File Grievances on Opening Day of Voting” it seems my thesis has been vindicated: university administrators have been violating the spirit, if not the letter, of restrictions on them. This is not unique to graduate student unionization, but rather another example of the University prioritizing power and image over students’ voices. In my four years here, I have seen a University more than willing to throw its students, faculty, and staff under the bus. Literally. Two years ago in snowy conditions, a Cornell staff member was struck and killed by a TCAT bus.
As we move toward our union recognition election next week we would like to tell you why we — 5 active members of CGSU — are proudly voting “yes.” The reason is simply this: CGSU creates a structure to uphold the values most central to our University’s mission for ourselves and future graduate workers. Fairness, respect and democracy. Fairness: Our Grad Union creates structures which will enable us to leverage our collective power to bargain for fair work and labor conditions protected by a legally binding contract. We’re not making unreasonable requests, we’re aiming to negotiate for basic labor protections and commonsense reforms which will enable us to do our jobs better. For instance, basic Cornell health insurance for a spouse and two children costs approximately $8000 annually — well out of reach given the majority of our salaries are less than $30,000 per year.