EDITORIAL: Cornell Is Under Federal Investigation. It’s Been Here Before.

While summer pursuits were occupying many a Cornellian, a jarring story dropped back here on the Hill. In a July 3 letter to President Martha Pollack, the Department of Education suggested Cornell may have violated the Higher Education Act of 1965. The University’s alleged misdeed? A failure to duly disclose financial relationships with China and Qatar. Last March, after The Sun uncovered lucrative research arrangements between Cornell and the Chinese telecom firm Huawei, the University assured us there was nothing to worry about.

GUEST ROOM | ‘Singling Out’ President Pollack’s Divestment Confusion

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.

EDITORIAL: Cornell’s Hush-Hush Huawei Ties

Thursday’s news that Cornell quietly took millions in research contracts from Chinese telecom firm Huawei is alarming enough. But the University’s refusal to provide details about said contracts makes for an utter transparency failure. Cornell must acknowledge the perils of working with a firm wedded to China’s autocracy — and reveal the nature of its Huawei ties. Public data from the Department of Education shows that Cornell took $5.3 million from Huawei in 2017 via two research contracts. That’s troubling.

‘Two Completely Different Worlds’: Four International Students Reflect on Homesickness, Culture Shock and the Value of Community

Lidia Mandava ’20 has returned home just once since she came to Cornell. Arzu Mammadova ’20 — who speaks four languages — struggled sometimes in her first-year writing seminar. Georgia Makris ’20 and AbdulRahman Al-Mana ’20 both described missing out on their changing hometowns. All these students are either the only, or one of a handful, student to ever attend Cornell from their home countries.

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.

EDITORIAL: Past Time to Investigate Cornell’s Qatar Campus

The University’s longstanding, disturbing refusal to investigate labor conditions at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar has fallen out of the discussion as of late. It is past time to bring the discussion back to light. Some context for the uninitiated. Human rights groups charge that Qatar’s foreign labor sponsorship system enables exploitation bordering on slavery. Migrant laborers come to the Gulf nation seeking work, but are quickly funneled into involuntary servitude.

Cornell Student Groups Celebrate Release of Student in Qatar

Clarification appended
Mohammed al-Ajami, a student at the University of Cairo who was arrested by Qatari security forces in 2011, was pardoned and released by the Emir of Qatar following a letter written by Amnesty International Cornell and Cornell Organization for Labor Action earlier this month. Christopher Hanna ’18, the co-president of Amnesty International Cornell, said that while he considers the letter drop just one part of a larger movement, it speaks to the power of collective action on matters of international justice. “Our letter-drop served a small but important role in rapidly ramping up press attention and public pressure for al-Ajami’s release, ultimately resulting in the Emir of Qatar’s decision to issue a pardon,” he said. “Altogether, this testifies to the power of coalition-building and human rights activism.” The letter was given to acting President Michael Kotlikoff, requesting that he pressure the Qatari government to release poet Ajami from prison.

Cornell University Assembly Resolution Urges Weill Qatar Investigation

The University Assembly passed a resolution Tuesday requesting specific information on labor practices at Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar in response to allegations of labor abuses. The resolution requests that details of any and all previous labor investigations or audits conducted at Qatar be sent to Cornell. It passed with a final vote of 10-0-1. Recent protests have revealed a substantial interest in labor practices and conditions in Qatar among students, staff and faculty, according to the resolution. The motivation for the resolution was a report from the International Trade Union Confederation that raised concerns of labor exploitation in Education City in Qatar, possibly even in Cornell facilities, according to Alexander Thomson ’13, executive vice chair of the U.A.
Qatari labor practices enforce the kafala system — a migrant-labor monitoring process which requires all unskilled laborers to have an in-country sponsor but also allows employers to commit massive labor exploitation with minimal legal repercussions, according to the resolution.