Letter to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: An Invitation to President Pollack on Qatar

To the Editor:

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.

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DEMASSA & DELGADO | Why Martha Pollack’s New Position Needs Scrutiny

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.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cornell must do more to remember Res Club Fire

Members of our classes should remember the “Res Club Fire” that occurred in the early morning hours of April 5, 1967 in the Cornell Heights Residential Club (now Ecology House) and took the lives of nine Cornellians, including five senior and graduate women living on the second floor, nine students who were members of the first class of the experimental six-year Ph.D. program (“Phuds”) and John Finch, a professor of English who lived there as an advisor. Mr. Finch had indeed escaped the building, only to return to assist others and be overcome by the toxic smoke that was responsible for all the deaths. The fire, which included two subsequent fires at locations where Phud survivors were living (Watermargin Cooperative and an apartment in Collegetown), and an investigation that never identified the perpetrator of what was apparently arson were reviewed in a long New York Times article by N. R. Kleinfield on April 13, 2018. Partially motivated by this article, 13 survivors of the fire from the classes of 1967, 1969 and 1970, along with three relatives of one of the deceased students, met with Cornell President Martha Pollack and several members of her staff on Aug. 6, 2018 in Ithaca.