At the end of the spring semester, The Sun had the opportunity to interview President Martha Pollack, touching on topics ranging from the expansion of mental health services, sensitivity responses to tragedies, Cornell Tech, food insecurity and Prof. Brian Wansink’s termination.
In her latest email, President Martha Pollack sent a brief statement expressing she is “shocked and horrified” about the bombings in Sri Lanka. It is important that Pollack is sending out these emails and addressing the Cornell community as tragedy strikes. It shows her cognizance of different student experiences and expresses her sincere sentiments. But a mere 68 words is probably not enough. Pollack’s 68-word Sri Lanka statement has less than one word for every three people that died in those bombings.
ByHelen Shanahan, Max Greenberg, Christopher Hanna, Kataryna Restrepo, Steve Tarcan and Viraj Kumar |
In President Pollack’s much-publicized statement rejecting Students for Justice in Palestine’s proposed divestment measures against Israeli occupation, Cornell’s leader claimed that such action would “unfairly single out one country in the world for sanction, when there are many countries around the world whose governments’ policies may be viewed as controversial.” In case she has forgotten, we would like to remind her of the other countries whose human rights violations have been brought to her attention by anti-imperialist members of the campus community. In May 2017, Pollack’s administration declined to take action to utilize Cornell’s purchasing power to help curb militia violence in the Congo in accordance with the demands of the global “conflict-free” movement. A resolution that earned the near-unanimous support from the Student Assembly was unilaterally dismissed, even though the relatively uncontroversial conflict-free campaign provided Cornell with a feasible action plan to directly address the country’s human rights violations. University leadership simply couldn’t be bothered to care about this powerful student-led effort, let alone act on it. The following month, an SA resolution authored by human rights organizers and Native American student leaders asked the University to divest from dirty pipeline projects that violate Indigenous sovereignty and put the future of all peoples at stake.
Eighty-five words. After the gruesome attacks that led to the death of at least 49 people and another 20 injured in New Zealand, President Martha Pollack sent a statement to the Cornell community consisting of only 85 terse words. On Oct. 29, President Pollack also sent out a statement to the Cornell community after the murder of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue. The 345-word message back then, however, was much more elaborate and reassuring.
As student labor organizers involved with Cornell’s United Students Against Sweatshops chapter, we heartily welcomed The Sun’s Feb. 5 editorial on the decades-old discussion surrounding Cornell’s operation of a medical campus outside the capital city of Qatar. We hope to further contextualize the longstanding fight to secure a third-party investigation into working conditions at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, with an eye towards future concerted action. To do so, we must first touch on relevant aspects of this campus’s rich history of student-driven labor organizing. At the turn of the millennium, the prolific USAS network mobilized to counter the influence of a Clinton-made organization, the Fair Labor Association, whose corporate ties clearly compromised its ability to independently monitor sweatshop conditions.
On its surface, the appointment of President Martha Pollack to IBM’s board of directors — effective Feb. 1 — seems to be a boon for Cornell’s foothold in New York City’s tech industry. However, with the added obligation of satisfying IBM shareholders, the implications of our university president participating in corporate board service are worth exploring. For more than a half-century, IBM has had a presence in New York City where its headquarters for the Watson artificial intelligence and cloud computing divisions are situated. It comes as no surprise, then, that IBM and Cornell Tech have a history of partnering on technological ventures.