ELF | The Spring Encampment: Failed Revolution or the Only Way to Live? (ft. Spencer Beswick)

There was never revolutionary potential in the Liberated Zone. I wrote in April that there were always two likely outcomes: that Martha Pollack would dismantle the encampment outright, as police did at Columbia and UCLA, or that she would trust in the existing cultural order to prevent the demonstration from reaching any sort of leveraged position in negotiations. Pollack’s stall tactics succeeded — ahead of the summer recess, the Coalition for Mutual Liberation called an end to the encampment last week. 

That my piece received heartfelt recognition from within and outside of the encampment should indicate some acceptance by proponents of the Liberated Zone that the demonstration would fail. Did it mean nothing, then? Was it a disingenuous attempt by privileged Ivy League students to virtue signal, with little concern for its success?

WILSON | Ghosts of the Encampment

“Yet there is no avoiding time, the sea of time, the sea of memory and forgetfulness, the years of promise, gone and unrecoverable, of the land almost allowed to claim its better destiny, only to have the claim jumped by evildoers known all too well, and taken instead and held hostage to the future we must live in now forever. May we trust that this blessed ship is bound for some better shore, some undrowned Lemuria, risen and redeemed, where the American fate, mercifully, failed to transpire.” — Thomas Pynchon ’59

When Cornell’s encampment is uprooted tonight, green and yellow patches of deadened grass will remain on the Arts Quad for some time — subtle discoloration indicating that at some point, something was here. After a few weeks at most, the grass will be mowed and grown anew, removing this temporary imprint. In three years, virtually all of the undergraduates who experienced life within our Liberated Zone will have graduated. Soon enough, our story will be reduced to the same vague murmurs of disquiet that eventually subsume all student protest movements.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | The Encampment is a Repeat of History

To the Editor: 

Re: “Students Stage Pro-Palestine Encampment on the Arts Quad” (news, April 25)

35 years ago I was involved in another divestment movement at Cornell — that of divesting from South Africa’s Apartheid regime. It was my first experience of political activism, and much of what is happening now appears to be repeating what happened then albeit with an added element of racial/ethnic tension. We built a shantytown on the Main Quad, held protests in front of various buildings, invaded the President’s office and disrupted a Board of Trustees meeting. Did it influence Cornell’s investment policy? To this day, I do not know.

GROSSMAN | Let Us Show Compassion and Understanding for Each Other

In the last few months, I have spoken with dozens of Jewish students. The picture that emerges from all of these meetings is a sad one. The disruptions that we have experienced in the last half a year have resulted in tremendous pain, shared by many members of our community. 

I have also spoken with others at Cornell who told me that they feel the disruptions we see on campus are minimal and have caused no harm at all. The same claims have been made in the many letters published in The Cornell Daily Sun by multiple faculty members accepting — and even praising and encouraging — disruption by students of other students, faculty and staff. This complete disregard for the pain experienced by members of the Jewish community is itself a source of pain. 

Too many people cannot study or work in the toxic environment that we have on campus.