LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Cornell Should Pay its Fair Share

To the editor:

Cornell University has the immense privilege of being exempt from property taxes. It enjoys this privilege due to New York State law’s treatment of nonprofit organizations, the underlying purpose of which is to help sustain institutions that will serve the public interest. The tax exemption is a public subsidy to Cornell to support its mission to provide education for the common good. The public mission of education reflects the democratic value of education, which should benefit society as a whole and should not serve as a private commodity benefiting only the individual student or faculty member. This tax exemption — this public subsidy — heightens Cornell’s moral obligation and social duty to act as a responsible member of the communities in which it is embedded.