Earlier on Thursday, the Young America’s Foundation — a conservative youth group that has been criticized as a white supremacist group — published a column and social media campaign attacking Cornell Student Assembly representatives.
The inaccurate shpiel of the YAF disseminated this morning is nothing more than a diatribe that attacked young adults with marginalized identities for having the gall to think differently.
In the opinion pages of this newspaper, cited in the YAF piece, The Sun has tried its best to trust the intent of different perspectives; we’ve advocated over and over again for students to disagree on policy, not personality. But it is impossible to model or facilitate discourse when off-campus agitators attack our peers for having the audacity to advocate for a disarmament resolution that seeks to make this campus safer. For all the hoopla attributed to members of the S.A. for their admittedly unconventional approaches to student governance, the power structures at play in this moment are clear: Students of color attempted to make change in the sphere of their own University, with democratic support of their community, following the institutional procedures that permit accountability. Rules were not broken. Policies were followed.
Three weeks ago, I finally returned home to my family in Maryland after living in Ithaca for four long months. I had been in Ithaca since early August, the beginning of residential staff training, and with no fall break in sight, those four months had dragged on until I was sick to death of Cornell.
However, over the course of these same past three weeks I have been home, the conversations surrounding disarmament on the Student Assembly floor escalated to a peak after a semester-long debate. And now — trying to chair these meetings with over 200 attendees on Zoom with my parents walking by bemusedly — I’ve found that I can’t talk to my family, or anyone really, about the S.A.
After speaking on the phone to a reporter from The Sun recently in an effort to convey my side of the S.A. story, I sat alone in my darkened room and listened to the muted sounds of my parents preparing dinner downstairs beyond my closed door.
I felt, all of a sudden, very alone.
I had always heard from other women at Cornell, my friends and mentors, that leadership is lonely. I have been talked about, reported on and had my private emails and texts shared without my consent for the entire Cornell community to read. I have been equally criticized and applauded for decisions made not solely by myself, but with the students I lead and represent.
As of Thursday afternoon, elections for Student Assembly President and University Assembly representatives have been suspended, after last-minute concerns over the validity of the ballots arose last night.
The Student Assembly is geared up for another election season with three students running for the presidential seat. All three candidates agree on one thing – closing the gap between the assembly and the students it represents.
The Student Assembly recently attempted to loosen those rules by voting to increase the student activity fee — an expense students pay to support on-campus organizations — from $234 to $321 in December 2019.