The Student Assembly put on hold a resolution on Thursday that would create a new spot for a representative from the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, with many members citing concerns over reapportioning representation for each of Cornell’s colleges in the S.A.
The Student Assembly appointed Liel Sterling ’21, founder of Cornell’s ACLU chapter and a candidate for Student-Elected Trustee last semester, to spearhead the new Office of the Student Advocate on Thursday.
Fifteen candidates spoke on issues ranging from mental health to laundry in the Memorial Room of Willard Straight at a candidates’ forum Thursday evening, hoping to successfully make their case to fellow students as Student Assembly elections near. Currently, the S.A. has five vacant spots — four for freshman representative and one for College of Arts and Sciences representative. There are currently 13 candidates running for freshman representative and two for College of Arts and Sciences representative. Previously open spots — transfer, LGBTQ liasion at-large and Art, Architecture, and Planning representative — were recently filled as each of the candidates for those positions ran unopposed. Noah Watson ’22 will serve as transfer representative, Tomás Reuning ’21 is the LGBTQ representative and Aram Cass ’23 is the AAP representative.
Hundreds of Cornellians and millions of young people worldwide walked out of school or work on Friday, Sept. 20 to protest government inaction toward climate change and demand divestment from fossil fuels. The case for divestment has never been stronger: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded last year that a radical transition away from fossil fuels in just over a decade is necessary in order to avoid irreversible disaster. Yet inaction is precisely the strategy of Cornell’s Board of Trustees and President Martha Pollack, defying the wishes of the Student Assembly, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the Faculty Senate. The Board of Trustees states that it will divest only in the case of “morally reprehensible” activity in which “the company in question contributes to harm so grave that it would be inconsistent with the goals and principles of the University,” as if an existential threat to human civilization in the near future is not morally reprehensible.
The Student Assembly unanimously passed a resolution Thursday to establish an Office of the Student Advocate, a student-run office which would provide counsel to students struggling to navigate Cornell’s administration.
The Student Assembly approved Thursday increases in byline funding for Cornell University Emergency Medical Services, the International Students Union and the Multicultural Greek and Fraternal Council Thursday, kicking off its funding cycle of 2019. If these increases are approved by the S.A. at the end of the semester, they will go into effect in 2020.
The Student Assembly Health and Wellness Committee successfully expanded its Wind-Down Zones initiatives during orientation weekend, helping students enjoy the night safely and welcoming first-years and transfer students to Cornell.
The Sun reported last semester that “for the first time in recent memory,” the Cornell Student Assembly had “approved a motion to vote by secret ballot” on Resolution 36, which “urged” Cornell to divest from companies “profiting from the occupation of Palestine.” Weeks of student lobbying led up to a high-stakes vote, which drew hundreds of Cornellians to Willard Straight Hall. These students hoped to see their elected representatives take a stand on an issue of great moral, political and historical importance. Instead, attendees watched as their representatives hid behind the secret ballot, an impermissible and anti-democratic political trick with a corrosive effect on student governance. As we start a new term, the Cornell community has to reckon with the consequences of the S.A.’s secrecy and prevent the elected body from doing further damage to campus democracy. Most strikingly, the vote by secret ballot was an egregious violation of the bylaws that are supposed to bind the S.A. These bylaws state “secret ballot votes shall be reserved for executive sessions,” a type of closed-door session the S.A. did not enter during the divestment showdown.